By Charlotte Smith
Bladen County’s Opioid Task Force met this month to discuss many components in the fight against opioid and drug abuse. UNC Project ECHO, Southeastern Carolina Crossroads, strategic planning and the new Substance Abuse Initiative Liaison program were all topics metaphorically bearing fruit during the meeting.
Two church members from White Lake Baptist Church gave witness to the lives being changed by the non-profit, Southeastern Carolina Crossroads (SECC). Rev. David Foster gave an update stating how many residents at the facility had not only finished the rehabilitation program offered at SECC, but also completed programs with Bladen Community College. He even mentioned some men who are doing well working in the local community or in their hometown since completing the substance abuse program offered to men.
Chairman of the group, Commissioner Charles Ray Peterson mentioned the Teen Challenge program in Bladen County is at full capacity with eight residents. The non-profit did not have a representative at the task force, but provides similar services like SECC, but for women.
No representative from Eastpointe was present at the meeting, however, success with the new Substance Abuse Initiative Liaison (S.A.I.L.) program funded by a $50,000 Eastpointe grant was discussed. Ideas from a similar program birthed by the Brunswick County Opioid Addiction Task Force has assisted in the new program, S.A.I.L. in Bladen County.
First Sgt. Richard Allen with the Bladen County Sheirff’s Department explained the new program to the group. If someone has a drug addiction problem and wants help all they have to do is call 910-862-6960 or go to the Sheirff’s Office located at 299 Smith Circle in Elizabethtown and ask for help with their addiction.
If someone is afraid to reach out to the Sheirff’s Office for assistance with drug abuse for fear of criminal charges, Allen announced there is nothing for them to fear.
Allen said, “It’s a win, win for them. Even if they have drugs on them, we are not pressing charges.”
If the person needs detox services we are taking them to Monarch for a 45 day detox, Allen explained. If they need long term assistance we are connecting them to treatment facilities like SECC and Teen Challenge.
“We are trying to find services locally to help them first and then reach out to surrounding areas if we can’t find services here, ” Allen said.
The services the person is enrolled is paid for by the grant funding provided by Eastpointe. If anyone needs assistance with mental or behavioral services they may always call the local MCO, Easptointe at 1-800-913-6109.
Rebecca Hester with the Medicine Shop in Bladenboro announced with Allen there will be a Pill Take Back event on April 27. People may drop off their unwanted and unused medications at the Medicine Shop in Bladenboro, in Clarkton at Clarkton Drug or at Anderson’s Drug Store in Elizabethtown on April 27.
Dr. Robin Jordon, Denise McRae and others with UNC Project ECHO gave an overview of their program to the group. The project is a research initiative to improve the health of North Carolinians by identifying and overcoming barriers to medical providers incorporating evidence-based treatment for opioid use disorder into their practice. The group discussed ways to work with Bladen County to help with the opioid crisis.
Last, but not least, County Manager, Greg Martin introduced Cynthia “Syd” Wiford, MRC, with ACT Associates (Action Creates Transformation). Martin explained Wiford and her company may be able to offer assistance with the strategic planning of the group with the Kate B. Reynolds grant funding.
Wiford explained ACT Associates specializes in local and regional needs assessment and service gap analysis. We use an evidence-based structure and data-driven approach to produce information.
The group will meet again at 2 p.m. on March 12, 2019 at the Bladen County Health Department to discuss more about the fight against opioids and drug abuse.