Despite an economic downturn, many individuals and organizations remain committed to educating the Commonwealth on the dangers of inhalant abuse and the importance of prevention efforts. The Virginia Inhalant Abuse Prevention Conference was held on March 16, 2009 in Williamsburg and was a tremendous success! The day’s activities commenced with a warm welcome from the Historic Triangle Substance Abuse Coalition’s, (HTSAC) Director, Susan Bruno and a brief history of the Virginia Inhalant Abuse Prevention Coalition (VIAPC) was provided by VIAPC’s Executive Director, Sandy Bailey.
William Shelton, Director of Virginia Department of Fire Programs, presented the Inhalant Abuse Prevention Week Proclamation from the Governor. The keynote speaker for the event was Mona Casey who lost her 15 year old son, Charles, to huffing refrigerant. She courageously spoke of the loss of her son and the work she has done to prevent others from similar tragedies by working with legislators, building code groups and manufacturers to require that locking caps are installed to limit access to air conditioner refrigerant.
(l-r: Mona Casey, Evelyn Waring, Sandy Bailey, Jeff Williams, Nadia Williams)
Attendees also had the opportunity to take part in several sessions. Some of the classes offered included: general information on inhalants, medical implications of inhalant abuse, and how to organize prevention efforts in the community. Additional classes offered training for teachers who will implement Virginia’s new curriculum, Inhalant Abuse Prevention. Another class was designed for counselors and substance abuse clinicians who learned about current research on inhalant treatment options. Sergeant Jeff Williams also shared his powerful story about the loss of his son by Sudden Sniffing Death, and how or anyone working with children can recognize the warning signs and symptoms of inhalant abuse.
(Mona Casey & Jeff Williams)
The conference’s 70 participants walked away with a better understanding of the dangers and challenges inhalant abuse presents to individuals, families and communities. For more information on the conference please go to the website: www.htsac.org