This evening I had the privilege of participating as a panel facilitator and web-streaming technical consultant for the Oklahoma A+ Schools “Watch Party” preceding and following the statewide broadcast of the documentary “Crystal Darkness.” The documentary focused on the scourge of methamphetamine (crystal meth) across the state of Oklahoma.

Following the documentary, a panel of distinguished experts on counseling, substance abuse prevention, addiction treatment, and law enforcement discussed the issues raised in the documentary. Guests included:

  1. Dr. Bruce Lochner, UCO Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Director of Student Counseling
  2. Sunshine Cowan, UCO Community Health Instructor and Healthy Life Skills Coordinator
  3. Dr. Debbie Traywick, Associate Professor and Coordinator, Health & Physical Education
  4. Detective Jeremy Biggs, UCO Department of Public Safety

This is the Ustream archived recording of our 30 minute post-documentary panel discussion.

Free Videos by Ustream.TV

I also recorded a 20 minute interview and discussion with Dr. Lochner prior to the broadcast of the “Crystal Darkness” documentary:

Free TV Show from Ustream

Prior to either of these recorded discussions, I answered several questions about the documentary “Crystal Darkness” and the UCO watch party posed by a reporter for the UCO television news channel. This recording is about 3.5 minutes long.

Video streaming by Ustream

Refer to the “Oklahoma Resources” page of the Oklahoma Crystal Darkness website for information about specific resources available in your Oklahoma county. The national campaign website, www.crystaldarkness.com, offers a variety of resources including facts about the problem, true stories about the effects of addiction, ways to get help, and suggestions for getting involved.

Some of the biggest takeaways for me from this evening’s discussions were:

  1. Anytime you have a question about suspicious activity in your neighborhood or elsewhere that you think could be criminally related, CALL THE POLICE. If a crime is not in progress, do not call 911, instead call the main administrative number for the police station. It is much better to and report something that turns out not to be a problem, than to turn a blind eye to a situation which could be affecting and harming others in your community.
  2. Meth addiction is a treatable condition and help IS available. Meth addicts are rarely able to initiate the process of getting help themselves. They need assistance. Identify local resources and reach out to them for assistance if you know someone affected by meth or another substance addiction.
  3. Open communication and dialog is key. This starts in families, but also involves schools, churches, community groups, sports teams, and other organizations. Substance abuse is tied closely to self-esteem and perceptions of identity. When people feel isolated, alone, and disconnected, they are most susceptible to self-destructive behaviors like drug abuse.
  4. We must be proactive in our local communities. Share information from the Crystal Darkness documentary with others in your area, and find ways to start conversations about this issues and needs. As Dr. Lochner reminded us during our discussion, “You are your brother’s keeper.” We’ve got to take the responsibility of taking care of others in our communities seriously.

I found the discussion about “social norms education” education at UCO particularly interesting during our panel tonight. Often the perceptions we form based on the influence of media, peers, and others is inaccurate. This type of educational initiative seems both reasonable and much-needed on our college campuses like UCO today.

Many thanks to Oklahoma A+ Schools for facilitating this “watch party” event and post-documentary discussion. I’d also like to extend a special shout-out to Jean Hendrickson, Dawn Danker, Stacie Morgan, and the crew of other technical assistants behind-the-scenes who worked to make this event a success. I hope to continue working with Oklahoma A+ Schools staff and educators on similar initiatives focused on improving the lives of our fellow Oklahomans and making positive differences together in our communities. It was fun and a real treat to be able to lend some of my expertise to this worthwhile project this evening.

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