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Light & Unite Red uses pop-culture to shatter myths, empower teens with facts

Campaign coincides with National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week

Milwaukee, WI (January 22, 2018) – Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele today announced that Milwaukee County will again put the spotlight on teen substance abuse prevention this week, National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week, with an interactive and multimedia campaign designed to help teens learn the facts about using drugs and alcohol. This special campaign is presented by the Light and Unite Red Committee – a community-wide substance use prevention coalition led by the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division. This particular campaign aims to shatter the myths that teens learn from the internet, social media, TV, movies, music or from friends. The campaign runs from January 22 to 28.

“The epidemic of substance abuse has hit home for so many in Milwaukee County,” said Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele. “Through National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week, we are partnering with more than 50 community organizations, health departments, libraries, schools and more. Together, we are empowering tens of thousands of our community’s youth to lead the conversation about prevention, equipping them with the facts about the effects of drugs and alcohol on their brains and on their futures. The best approach to eliminating an epidemic is to prevent it … and that starts with our youth.”

Throughout the week, several schools and youth organizations are encouraging their students to wear red, the national color for substance abuse awareness. Many will also host activities including a haiku contest, quizzes and trivia contests, bingo games, and will encourage teens to use a SnapChat filter to share facts with friends. Teachers can download blog posts and a lesson plans from lightunitered.org.

“We’ve designed this week with the help of teens,” says Mike Lappen, Administrator of the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division. “We’re using messages, technology, a film about a teenager exposed to opioids and more to help our youth understand what misusing drugs and alcohol actually is. Many are misinformed and misled by what they see on social media and the internet. We want to prevent substance abuse and connect teens to help if they need it.”

National Drug and Alcohol Fact Week also includes a number of free events for the public and features a nationally-awarded documentary and panel discussion about opioid abuse.

  • Monday, Jan. 22 – Addiction Information and Resource Fair – Highlights include: 100+ teens in attendance, training on how to administer Narcan, a opioid overdose reversal drug, and a personal testimony.
  • Tuesday, Jan. 23  – Phone Bank on TMJ44 – 7 p.m. – Callers can have their questions about substance abuse facts and resources answered by substance use experts. Individuals will share personal testimonies live on the air and on Facebook live.
  • Wednesday, Jan. 24 – Recognizing Addiction presentation, featuring Dr. Michael McNett, pain management physician and leader of the comprehensive pain program at Aurora Health Care. Greenfield Public Library, 6 – 8 p.m.
  • Thursday, Jan. 25 – “Written Off” documentary screening and talk back at the Oriental Theater, 7 p.m. This nationally awarded feature film features a Wisconsin man’s struggles with opioid use that he cataloged through pages in his journal and hid from loved ones. Tickets are free and can be secured atwrittenoffmke.eventbrite.com. Following the screening, there will be a talk back panel featuring local behavioral health experts, community leaders in the field of substance abuse and an individual with lived experience. This discussion will focus on prevention and explore the topics of behavioral health care resources in our community, AODA/addiction, stigma, race and more. Moderated by Jermaine Reed, WNOV860 AM, panelists include:
    • Michael Lappen, MS, LPC, Administrator, Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division and co-chair of the City-County Heroin, Opioid and Cocaine Task Force
    • Michael Vann, MSE, CSAC, ICS, Recovery Support Specialist, Wisconsin Resource Center
    • Maria Perez, PhD, VP of Behavioral Health Affairs, Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers
    • Mark Fossie, MS, LMFT, APSW, CSAC, ICS, President Chief Executive Officer, M&S Clinical Services, Inc. and Bishop, Lion of Judah Christian Ministries
    • Walter Lanier, JD, MDIV, Director, Multicultural Services and Community Engagement, Milwaukee Area Technical College and Pastor, Progressive Baptist Church.
  • Friday, Jan. 26 – Light & Unite Red Day – Wear red or join the Milwaukee Bucks McKinley Health Center, General Mitchell Airport, Schlitz Park, US Bank and more as they light up their buildings red to support substance abuse awareness. Post pictures to #lightunitered.
  • Saturday, Jan. 27 – Resource Fair for Parents and Teens at Southridge Mall from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Highlights include a special performance planned for 1:30 p.m.with teens sharing powerful drug facts and a choreographed line dance. The day will also showcase other creative works from teens, sharing the passions they pursue rather than substance use.
  • Tuesday, Jan. 30 – Stairway to Heroin – A program discussing the influence and impacts parents have on their children, featuring a personal story of recovery and parent testimony, Detective Chris Kohl, Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department, Dr. Timothy Westlake, Medical Director for Oconomowoc Memorial Hospital and Chris Gleason, Administrator of Regional Behavioral Health Services for Rosecrance. 6:30 – 8 p.m. at Shorewood High School Theater for the Dramatic Arts.

The public is encouraged to attend any of these free programs. To learn more about National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week and for a full list of events and partners, visitlightunitered.org.

About the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division
The Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division (BHD) is the community’s connection point to vital, high-quality behavioral health care. BHD empowers safe, healthy and meaningful lives by ensuring that everyone gets connected to great behavioral health care, no matter their severity of need or ability to pay. Through BHD, Milwaukee County residents have access to the largest network of behavioral health providers in the state. BHD provides care and treatment to adults, adolescents and children with mental illness, substance use disorders and co-occurring illnesses and offers services across the following four key areas: crisis services, community-based services, hospital services, and child and adolescent services. For more information, visit milwaukee.gov/BHD.

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