Mount Vernon Brief: Forum Explores Effects of Drugs on the Adolescent Brain

Mount Vernon Brief: Forum Explores Effects of Drugs on the Adolescent Brain

The effects of drugs on the adolescent brain and new Fairfax county and public school initiatives for students with mental health and substance abuse issues will be the topics of the 2016 NEXUS forum for families and professionals Thursday, March 31, at the Fairfax Public Schools Virginia Hills Center, 6500 Diana Lane, Alexandria. The afternoon session is from 1-6 p.m. and the evening session is 6–9 p.m. The public is invited.

At the evening session, researcher Emily Einstein, from the National Institutes of Health / National Institute on Drug Abuse will describe the latest research about the influence of drugs (from marijuana to opiates) on the adolescent brain. She will discuss how chemicals change the brain; myths about recovery; and the factors most likely to engender success in different types of recovery programs.

Lyn Tomlinson, assistant deputy director of the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board (CSB) who serves on a Fairfax County inter-agency task force for prescription drug and heroin use at the State Substance Abuse and Mental Health Council, will talk about heroine/opioid epidemic prevention and treatment and specific local interventions in partnership with other agencies.

Beka Martinez and her son will give a personal perspective on what happens when autism, mental health problems and drugs intersect in an adolescent life. Mount Vernon Supervisor Dan Storck, will discuss the Board of Supervisors’ priorities for turning problems into opportunities for improving the mental health of the young.

During the afternoon session, participants will hear from Tisha Deeghan, executive director of the CSB, which oversees county mental health services, and others involved in the county Behavioral Health System of Care and Diversion First initiatives.

Youth with mental health and substance abuse issues often encounter the juvenile justice system. Capt. Shawn Martin, commander of Mount Vernon District police station, and others will discuss the outcomes of a pilot program called “restorative justice,” that offers alternatives to detention to first time nonviolent offenders. Other speakers will address recognizing and preventing gang activity in Fairfax County, youth and adult mental health first aid courses, and a student-to-student support program.

NEXUS is an outreach committee of the Advisory Board of the Joe and Fredona Gartlan Center for Community Mental Health in Mount Vernon district. The advisory board promotes strong mental health outcomes for all ages. NEXUS sponsors public forums on mental health topics of interest to residents and professionals. The name NEXUS reflects an appreciation of those who collaborate to help youth build healthy brain-ways in a stressful world.

To register for the seminar, contact Lainge Bailey, at 703-660-2327 or