The annual RX and Illicit Drug Summit gathered stakeholders “from federal to family” this week at Georgia World Congress Center seeking solutions to end the opioid epidemic in the United States. The summit includes everyone from federal lawmakers to physicians and counselors to family members who have been affected by prescription drug misuse and illicit drug use. The gathering seeks to bring together people from all levels of involvement to produce meaningful solutions and changes.
The RX and Illicit Drug Summit began in 2012 under the leadership of Operation Unite and U.S. Representative Harold Rogers of Kentucky, and it is produced by HMP Global. It is now the largest annual gathering for stakeholders to discuss what is working in prevention and treatment of drug abuse and addiction, specifically opioids. Kelly McCurdy, Chief Marketing Officer for HMP Global, says the group saw progress in the fight against addiction and drug abuse in the years leading up to 2020. However, due to many factors during the COVID-19 pandemic, addiction and overdose numbers began to climb in the past three years. “Coming out of COVID the numbers are kind of a bleaker situation, and we’ve got to pull together and find even more solutions. By bringing together policy makers, congressmen, community advocates, family who have been dealing with the situation, it’s kind of an all hands on deck focus on getting the latest education and the latest solutions,” McCurdy said.
Despite the obstacles that get in the way of the fight against drug abuse and addiction, the RX and Illicit Drug Summit keeps working together for solutions. McCurdy says the summit continues to be a community effort to solve a community problem that has claimed over one million lives and is affecting more and more people everyday. “It’s a real opportunity not only for education, for the community to come together and hear the very latest content and solutions, but also just kind of an ability to engage your community and work with one another, get support for one another.”
The RX and Illicit Drug Summit is “the event for decision-makers and allied professionals working to address this (drug misuse/abuse) public health emergency.” United States Presidents have made appearances in the past, including President Joe Biden in 2021 and 2022, President Donald J. Trump in 2019, President Bill Clinton in 2018, and President Barack Obama in 2016. During this year’s summit, plenary sessions focused on big picture topics, and there were workshops, small group sessions, and presentations on case studies sharing results, new research, and solutions. Overall, McCurdy says it is a place to bring hope to a situation that may seem bleak to many. “It’s just a really positive place to come together, focused on one mission, which is really delivering a message of hope.”