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Workshop focuses on addiction treatment

Panelists from across the nation are in Selma this week to lead a workshop for law enforcement officers, court officials, educators and others about addiction.

The workshop is put on every September by the Dallas County Treatment Court and Dallas County Commission.

The workshop is part of National Recovery Month and has a theme this year of “Taking back our communities: Serving the underserved in treatment courts and the role of the community.”

“Five years ago, we started this training to educate our community about the effectiveness of treatment and making individuals aware that treatment does work and individuals can recover,” said Miah Jackson, executive director of Dallas County Treatment Court.

Jackson said the workshop is open to anyone, but most participants are in public safety or the court system. So far, more than 80 people have registered.

The workshop will be held Thursday and a half-day Friday at the George P. Evans Reception Hall at 2 Lawrence Street.

Panelists are from across the nation, including Timothy James, who wrote a book titled “From the Needle to the Pen” about his addiction and recovery.

Judge John Graham, who founded the drug court in Jackson County and is an expert on the Scottsboro Boys trial, will give a presentation.

Other panelists include:

*Guy Wheeler, who has 20 years of experience with drug treatment programs in Florida

*Wallace Green of Ohio, who will speak on the impact of hip-hop culture

*Susan James-Andrews, a consultant from Maryland and president of the Thurgood Marshall Action Coalition, an organization of black drug court professionals

*Darryl Turpin, who works in substance abuse and criminal justice in Kentucky.

“We want to be solution focused. So the next couple of days will be, ‘Here’s what we know about the problem and here are some solutions,” James-Andrews said. “It’s more of an intervention and getting them to think differently.”

The panelists will also talk to students at Selma High School and Southside High School while they are in town.

District Court Judge Bob Armstrong said he’s heard the panelists at national drug court conventions and is glad to get the group to Selma to share their knowledge.

“They were talking about gang involvement and how to reach the young African American that we are losing. When we heard it, we said, ‘We need to get them to Selma,’” Armstrong said. “Our young people need to hear this. It’s a message all the children need to hear. It may keep some of them from gang activity. It’s a message of hope, but it’s very practical too.”