Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Summer School on Chemical Dependency -- Format changes to accommodate participation


Month spotlights safe use of medicines

Education about prescription drug use is an emphasis for Addiction Ministries in October, which is National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month.

The ministry can make presentations and offers video resources for check-out.

Director Annette Harper noted some U.S. statistics:

  • One in 10 youths, ages 12-17, reported abusing cough medicine to get high.

  • One in five young adults reported abusing a prescription drug. Prescription drugs are the second most-abused category of drugs; marijuana ranks first.

Harper urged parents, schools, and churches to promote prevention and advocacy. She also reported:

  • Research shows an increase in the senior population abusing medicines to escape depression, loneliness, stress, and grief.

  • Aging bodies metabolize drugs slower. Adverse interactions can result when older adults take multiple medications. Awareness of drug interactions is essential information for seniors, their families, and their doctors.

National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month was designated by the U.S. Senate.

For a listing of resources in the Addiction Ministries’ video library, go to: http://www.okumcministries.org/Addiction_Ministries/Files/Video_Library.pdf

For information on a prevention or awareness presentation, contact Harper, aharper@okumc.org,  405-530-2010.

The 29th year of the Summer School on Chemical Dependency experimented with a new format, offering shorter modules in addition to the 12-day session. Nine clergy and nine laity participated, choosing either the new format or the full school.

The modules are designed to be completed across two or three consecutive years, explained Annette Harper, director of Addiction Ministries.

Module One covers the topics from the first three days of the 12-day session, and it is a prerequisite to Modules Two and Three.

"I think having the option to attend part of the training is very helpful to those who cannot get away for 12 days," commented a student in Module 1. "The content was very enlightening and educational. It opened my eyes to possibilities within my ministry and within my own life. Understanding myself more can only help me to minister to others more effectively."

Another student said, "I am so pleased that the school is now offered in modules. I wanted desperately to stay for the entire time. Hoping I can finish the other two modules next summer."

The shorter experience also heightened interest in the full school.

"After going through Module 1, we really did not want to go home. If we had it to do over again, we would probably schedule it where we could take the full 12 days in a row," a student said.

The Summer School is held in June at Oklahoma City University.

"Every pastor needs to come to a school such as this," said a participant in the 12-day session. "We do not receive enough training to be effective with this type problem within our congregations."

"Challenged me to challenge the church to be open," said a classmate.

Graduates of the Summer School on Chemical Dependency exhibit a unique sense of renewal in ministry, Harper said. As they learn, risk, and grow together, she observes the shared experiences opening opportunities to dialogue freely and in depth. The Summer School approach to learning reinforces addiction ministry in its two key areas: walking alongside those hurting from addiction and realizing that addiction is a family disease.

Each year the class covenants to stay in touch and continue dialogue, Harper said.

She provided this quote from one 2011 evaluation: "I cannot express in words what this experience has meant to me, so I will demonstrate it in my life."

Dates for the 2012 Summer School on Chemical Dependency are June 17-28. Full scholarships are also available. The 12-day session offers 80 Continuing Education Units (CEUs). Module One offers 20 CEUs; Modules Two and Three, 25 CEUs each.

For more information, go to www.addictionministries.org  or call Harper, 405-530-2010.


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