Operation UNITE’s “Celebrate Successes in Prevention and Education” Coalition Awards luncheon scheduled for 11 am to 12:30 pm on Tuesday, February 17, at the Eastern Kentucky University Manchester Campus has been CANCELED due to the prediction of hazardous winter weather coming into the region. It will be rescheduled.

Two of America’s top officials in the effort to reduce drug use and its consequences will help Operation UNITE recognize and “Celebrate Successes in Prevention and Education” throughout southern and eastern Kentucky at a luncheon on Tuesday, February 17.

Michael Botticelli, acting director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), and Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse in the National Institutes of Health, will join Kentucky’s Fifth District Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers at the celebration, which begins at 11 a.m. at Eastern Kentucky University’s Manchester Campus.

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“Kentucky has been a hot zone for prescription drug abuse and diversion for more than a decade. Lives were being lost and families torn apart at unacceptable rates,” said Dan Smoot, UNITE president/CEO. “Through prevention and awareness initiatives, UNITE has been able to slow the problem and engage thousands of citizens to address substance abuse-related issues within their own communities.”

“The volunteers working with UNITE Coalitions in each of our 32 counties are having an impact, although we know there’s much more to accomplish,” Smoot continued. “This celebration is an opportunity to pause and thank these folks at the grassroots level who are making a difference and recognize a few of their most successful initiatives.”

The public is invited to participate in the celebration. There is no charge to attend, but because lunch will be served an RSVP is requested by Thursday, February 12, to Gina Muncy at gmuncy@centertech.com. On-site registration will start at 10:30 a.m.

As ONDCP director, Botticelli is responsible for the National Drug Control Strategy, which outlines efforts to reduce drug use, manufacturing and trafficking, drug-related crime and violence, and drug-related health consequences. This strategy places an emphasis on community-based prevention programs, diverting non-violent drug offenders into treatment instead of jail, and expanding access to substance abuse treatment.

Congressman Rogers, whose vision created UNITE in 2003, is recognized as a national leader on drug-related issues.

“UNITE’s unique approach to place equal emphasis on education, treatment and enforcement has been heralded as a model for the nation,” Smoot said, noting an annual National Rx Drug Abuse Summit, hosted by UNITE, is regarded as the largest collaboration of professionals and stakeholders addressing substance abuse issues.