The next Worthington Cares Speaker Series event will feature a local emergency-room physician teaching parents and teens how to prevent opiate addiction and spot the signs and symptoms of addiction.
The fourth event of the eight-month series, called "NIX Opiates," will be at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 27, at Thomas Worthington High School, 300 W. Dublin-Granville Road.
The speaker will be Dr. James Chan, who practices in Columbus and throughout Ohio.
He has been a Worthington resident for the past 12 years, said Lori Povisil, the Worthington Schools Safe and Drug-Free Schools coordinator.
Drug Safe Worthington sponsors the speaker series, which is designed to discuss problems and find solutions to drug abuse, Povisil said.
Participants are asked to RSVP at drugsafeworthington.org.
"The main goal for this event is to educate audience members on the different types of opiates (narcotics), how opiates work on the brain and body (and) how opiate use can quickly lead to overuse and addiction, including the natural evolution leading to heroin use," Povisil said.
The event is an opportunity to come together as a community and learn from local experts, said Thomas Worthington principal Pete Scully.
"As an educator, I know it will take all of us working together to combat the opiate crisis," he said. "Our kids and our community are better because of the work of Drug Safe Worthington, and I'm happy they're partnering with us."
Drug Safe Worthington was founded in 2011 and is a coalition of parents, city officials, educators, librarians, residents, businesses, firefighters, police officers and local service agencies and experts in substance abuse.
It operates under the nonprofit Healthy Worthington Resource Center and Food Pantry.
Povisil said Chan's speech would focus on the signs and symptoms of someone under the influence of opiates and the damaging effects of the drugs on every system within the body.
"I encourage parents of high school students to bring them along to see the 'NIX Opiates' presentation," she said.
"Knowledge is power and recent statistics state 10 percent of high school students are abusing prescription narcotics.
"That means we need to get them this information before they are heading down a deadly path."
The evening begins with dinner from 6 to 6:30 p.m. and then activities for children ages 5 to 15. Chan's presentation will be from 6:45 to 8 p.m.
Before Chan begins to speak, a Worthington parent is expected to talk about the recent loss of her daughter from an overdose.
"The parent wants to share her daughter's story, honoring her on her birthday, Nov. 27," Povisil said.
"She wants to let people know that addiction and, unfortunately, death from an overdose can happen in every community, including Worthington."
The next event in the speaker series will be at 6 p.m. Jan. 22 at Worthington Kilbourne High School, 1499 Hard Road.
"The topic for the evening will be addiction but more information about that event will be shared in mid-December," Povisil said.