WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – To kick off this year’s Cancer Research Classic (CRC) basketball showcase, a free seminar on mental health and drug abuse was held for parents and students.
“More than a Game…the Untold Truth” took place Thursday tonight at the Glessner Auditorium inside Oglebay’s Wilson Lodge. It featured a pair of well-known speakers, ex-professional basketball player Ian Johnson and New York Times bestselling author Alex Berenson.
“Mental health and drug issues are becoming increasingly prevalent in our young people and there is very little discussion,” said Dr. Gregory Merrick, Director of the CRC. “Mental health had never been part of athletic discussions and we very seldom have honest discussions about drugs.”
On Thursday night, that discussion was held in front of a large audience at Oglebay.
“We wanted to be able to reach out to our youth and their parents and their coaches and their teachers to provide a good opportunity so that kids know what they’re getting into, where to ask for help and how to navigate the obstacles they’re going to encounter in life,” said Dr. Merrick.
Experts say the most problematic drug among teens is marijuana.
“Many of the same people who promoted opioids as medically safe and a good idea 20 years ago, some of those people are talking about how marijuana is a cure-all,” said Alex Berenson, a New York Times bestselling author. “They shouldn’t view it that way. It’s dangerous to drive on and has real psychiatric risk.”
Ian Johnson is a former professional basketball player who struggled with substance abuse.
“We’re never going to gene splice our way out of feeling sad or feeling anxious or obsessive-compulsive,” said Johnson. “But what we can do is tell people who are struggling that there are ways to get help.”
The Cancer Research Classic will be held at WesBanco Arena on Friday and Saturday.