Conference to address substance abuse by youth and young adults

Finger Lakes Collegiate Task Force hosts event for community, educators and counselors

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Drug and alcohol use, including the use of opioids, among youth and young adults in our area will be the topic of a conference presented by the Finger Lakes Collegiate Task Force for community members, parents, school faculty and staff, educators, coaches and mental health and substance abuse counselors.

“Emerging Issues: Alcohol and Substance Abuse by Youth and Young Adults,” will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. April 12 at the RIT Inn & Conference Center, 5257 W. Henrietta Road. Registration is $75 and includes lunch.

About 250 people are expected to attend.

“Issues surrounding alcohol and substance abuse are wide-ranging, and the field of criminal justice has to reflect more than enforcement, punishment and criminality,” said John McCluskey, chair of Rochester Institute of Technology’s criminal justice department, which is sponsoring the conference. “We have near daily reminders of the toll that overdoses and opioid deaths, among other substance abuse issues, present. This conference recognizes that public health and treatment providers, social services, schools and justice agencies need to work together and establish partnerships committed to learning more about the nature and extent of these problems, their origins and consequences, and effective responses.”

Several other presenters are faculty or staff members from RIT, including some from RIT’s Center for Public Safety Initiatives, which has conducted research on substance abuse issues, including opioids.

Monroe County Sheriff Todd K. Baxter also plans to attend and speak about the local opioid crisis.

“There is no greater drug epidemic that the one our community is facing right now,” Baxter said. “We are losing this battle. Opioid overdose affects all of us: our families, our neighborhoods, our church communities and our children. We as a community need to start talking openly about this epidemic and remove the stigma and stereotypes often associated with it. We need to feel a sense of urgency. We can’t afford not to. Lives depend on it.”

Baxter said Monroe County reported 766 overdoses in 2017; 142 of them were fatal. There were 47 overdoses and eight reported fatalities in Monroe County as of mid-February this year.

Other speakers include John Underwood, president and founder of the American Athletic Institute, who plans to talk about the effects of drugs and alcohol on athletic performance.

Keynote speaker is Amelia Arria, director of the Center on Young Adult Health and Development and the Office of Planning and Evaluation at the University of Maryland School of Public Health. She’s currently conducting research on health risk behaviors among college students, and the consequences of untreated mental health conditions and substance abuse.

State Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor hours have been requested for the conference. Attendance will also be credited for Credentialed Prevention Professionals and Credentialed Prevention Specialists.

The task force, created in 1989 as a support network for college health professionals, substance abuse treatment providers, prevention providers and other human services resources, covers Monroe, Livingston, Ontario and Yates counties.

To register or for more information, contact Karen Pelc at or call 585-475-7081.