18th Substance Abuse Coalition draws from around the region

Participants gather for a buffet-style lunch during a break in the 18th annual Southeastern Arizona Substance Awareness Symposium at Eastern Arizona College on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023. - David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central

THATCHER — Kathy Grimes, the executive director for the Graham County Substance Abuse Coalition, said the 18th annual Southeastern Arizona Substance Awareness Symposium went off even better than planned.

“It’s been great,” Grimes said. “We’ve had so many in attendance. We have had people here from Pima County, Cochise County, Santa Cruz County, Gila County, Greenlee County and Graham County, so I feel pretty good about it.”

The theme for this year’s symposium was “In the Moment,” and it featured a number of expert speakers, as well as workshops tailored to both teens and adults.

Workshops included:

● Leadership skills for youths

● Mental health awareness for adults

● Trauma and resilience for both youth and adults

● Negative effects of substance use for both youths and adults

“I just spoke with a young man, and we had a speaker talking about ‘You are worth it. Feel good about yourself because you’re worth it.’ ” Grimes said. “I think sometimes our kids don’t hear that enough.”

Speakers also focused on the dangers of fentanyl, as well as the misconception that vaping products are not harmful or addictive.

Speakers included Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels, Jake from VIVE 18, and Zion and Jamal Givens.