By Melisa Damcevska, Wellspring Preventionist
Whether you are new to the prevention field or have been working in it for decades, CADCA’s annual National Leadership Forum is a powerful sight to be seen.
Personally, it was my very first time attending, and I will be forever grateful that I was able to attend because of how eye-opening and empowering those four days in National Harbor, Maryland were. Prevention, for people not involved in the field, is a highly misunderstood topic. We as prevention specialists are constantly asked, how do you prevent something like this from happening? How do you possibly know it works? Why should I worry about a few kids underage drinking when the opioid epidemic is killing thousands a week?
And that is exactly why we need prevention. To stop the epidemic before it even begins.
CADCA’s National Leadership Forum brought together about 3,000 individuals all working towards the same goal: to prevent drug abuse from happening to make our communities safe, healthy and happy. Sometimes in the field of prevention, we forget what we are actually working towards. Sometimes we deal with a difficult student who may seem out of our reach, or deal with a community who insists drugs and alcohol is not a problem within their borders, or even begin to doubt ourselves and what we are working so hard for each and every day.
Seeing how many people came together from all over the world who are all deeply passionate about the field of prevention could breathe new life into anyone who may have been doubting the importance of prevention. Each workshop held throughout the four days of forum provided either a new perspective or a refresher on topics ranging from data collection, coalition and community impact, underage drinking, the opioid epidemic, how the brain and body play a role in addiction, among so much more. The chance to network and meet people from all over the world, discuss and share ideas, allowed me and so many other to come away with a new perspective to further help our own individual communities.