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Addiction Specialist Delivers Powerful Message on Substance Abuse

September, 2019
  • Addiction expert Dr. Ruth Potee gives a compelling talk about addiction at QCC.
    Addiction expert Dr. Ruth Potee gives a compelling talk about addiction at QCC.
  • Local officials attend addiction program at QCC.
    From left: Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis, President Dr. Luis Pedraja and Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early, Jr.
  • Reliant Foundation Board Chair and President (far right) with Dr. Ruth Potee and State Rep. Jim O'Day
    From left: Reliant Foundation Board Chair Tom Sullivan, Dr. Ruth Potee, State Representative Jim O'Day and Reliant Foundation President Kelsa Zereski
  • Informational tables lined the walkway to the Hebert Auditorium.
    Informational tables lined the walkway to the Hebert Auditorium.

In recognition of September being National Recovery Month, the Reliant Foundation and Quinsigamond Community College teamed up to host leading addiction expert Ruth Potee, M.D., in a compelling public presentation entitled, “Physiology of Addiction.” Over 300 people attended the free public event held on September 16, in QCC’s Hebert Auditorium.

“As a community college we always feel being part of the community is central to our mission. We welcome the community into our campus. We want to be defined by the whole community that we serve,” said President Dr. Luis G. Pedraja. “Addiction affects all of us. It’s so important to bring in experts and initiate conversations that need to be had. All of us as a community must address addiction.”

Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early, Jr. was quick to add that there is no bigger social problem than the opioid crisis. Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis reflected on the first time he was in the Hebert Auditorium some five-plus years ago for the first Governor’s Task Force meeting on opioid addiction.

“This room has a history of being a leader when it comes to combating this horrible epidemic we are in the midst in right now,” Sheriff Evangelidis said.

In addition to the 300-plus attendees, the event drew the support of other notable community and elected officials that included:  Fitchburg Mayor Stephen DiNatale; Worcester Commissioner of Health and Human Services Mattie Castiel, M.D.; Massachusetts State Representatives Hannah Kane and David Muradian, Jr.

“Substance abuse – in particular the opioid epidemic – continues to make headlines across the country, and directly impacts our local communities,” said Reliant Foundation President Kelsa Zereski. “Our hope is that attendees of this presentation will walk away with an even deeper understanding of this public health crisis, and also some context around how and why an individual becomes addicted to any substance.” 

“Just about every day we hear new staggering statistics about the impact substance abuse has on our communities,” said Dr. Ruth Potee. “We’re all working really hard to combat this epidemic, but we – as a collective – must first start with an understanding of how we’ve gotten to this point…how someone becomes addicted, why it’s so difficult to break an addiction, and why so many addicts struggle with maintaining sobriety.”

To watch Dr. Potee’s presentation visit “Physiology of Addiction.”

Dr. Potee is a board-certified family physician and addiction medicine physician. She is currently the medical director for the Franklin County House of Corrections, the director of addiction services for Behavioral Health Network, and the medical director for the Pioneer Valley Regional School District. Co-chair of the Healthcare Solutions Committee of the Opioid Task Force of Franklin County and the North Quabbin Regions, Dr. Potee was named 2015 Franklin County Doctor of the Year by the Massachusetts Medical Society.