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Substance Use Task Force Gaining Resources Amid 28 Percent Increase in Overdoses During COVID-19 Pandemic

The Substance Use Task Force met this month at Bladen Community College for subgroup reports on achievements and continued to follow through on its strategic plan. The local stakeholders reported increases in substance abuse issues and limited access during the COVID-19 Pandemic; however, the committees announced more resources are being added for the area. 

Chairman of the task force, Charles Ray Peterson, welcomed everyone and expressed disappointment in Eastpointe representatives’ lack of attendance. Eastpointe representatives were not in attendance due to their company’s COVID-19 policy, according to Peterson.

The task force hopes to receive a grant from Eastpointe to help fund local rehabilitation and recovery programs. The programs the Eastpointe will fund if accepted are Southeastern Carolina Cross Roads, Cape Fear Teen Challenge, Celebrate Recovery and Open Door Ministry for offering an Alcohol Anonymous group. Eastpointe has not announced if the grant has been awarded to the local task force yet. 

Bladen County EMS Director, Mr. David Howell, said from January to August, there has been a 28% increase in overdoses over January to August 2019. In the last 60 days, the majority have been heroin overdoses. 

“It’s my personal opinion COVID-19 is partially to blame,” Howell stated. 

Howell announced a SAMHSA Rural Emergency Medical Services Training Grant for $199,000 dollars was awarded to Bladen County in August. The grant is for substance abuse and mental health response training and educating staff and creating a program for a Community Paramedic. 

“We are going to try to initiate a community paramedic program to assist the public and primary care providers with preventative health and substance abuse education, plus resources for the underserved population within the county.” 

The Substance Abuse Task Force Director, Dr. Cathy Gantz, announced the group has joined the North Carolina ABC Coalition this spring which gives the county more credentials. 

She also announced Alcoholic Annonymous meetings continue to be held at Open Door Ministries on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays at 7:30 pm.

Meredith DuBose, with DreamWorks and Bladen Disaster Recovery Team told the task force DreamWorks received a grant, and she is available for counseling services. Anyone may receive counseling services at no cost at this time. The number to call for an appointment is 910-674-9261. 

She also announced Celebrate Recovery would be offered once a month on a Friday at 6 pm at DreamWorks located at 1001 West Broad Street, Elizabethtown, NC. Celebrate Recovery was supposed to start in March, but COVID-19 prevented the meetings. DuBose said as soon as the schedule is finalized, the task force would distribute the information. 

The public is invited and encouraged to attend the subgroup meetings and the task force meetings. Contact Dr. Gantz to find out more about the task force and the subgroup meetings.

Dr. Gantz announced September is National Recovery and Suicide Awareness Month. Anyone with suicidal thoughts may call: 1-800-273-8255 for help. 

Dr. Cathy Gantz, released Digital Recovery Resources. The following are resources for anyone facing addiction. These resources maybe even more valuable during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Click on the blue links and follow the directions to take advantage of the digital resources.  

Peer Recovery Mutual Aid Meetings: 

Alcoholics Anonymous—search for 1,000+ online meetings worldwide 

Al-Anon—searchable list of e-meetings for people affected by alcohol addiction in a family member or friend 

Any Positive Change—harm reduction mutual aid (Tuesdays, 7 pm Eastern time) or dial 872-240- 3412 with access code 177-648-909 

Cocaine Anonymous—email, voice, and online meetings 

Co-Dependents Anonymous—phone and online meetings in support of healthy, loving relationships 

Families Anonymous—virtual meetings for family members of people with SUD/OUD 

In the Rooms—virtual meeting space for wide variety of societies, including 12-step, secular, and gender-specific 

LifeRing Secular Recovery—daily meetings via Zoom 

Narcotics Anonymous—search for online and phone meetings around the world 

Recovery Dharma—Buddhist approach with daily meetings accessible by phone, smartphone, and computer 

Refuge Recovery—Buddhist approach with daily meetings by Zoom across the U.S. 

SMART Recovery—daily online meetings, message board, and 24/7 live chat 

Spanish All Recovery—live weekly meetings in Spanish and English coordinated by El Paso ReCo 

Medication-Assisted Recovery Anonymous—Zoom meetings from MARA International 

Unity Recovery—online recovery support groups available five times daily, plus groups for family, women, and LGBTQ+ 

Facebook Communities Note: Private groups are visible to members only and require a request to join. Public groups are visible to anyone. 

Activismo Latino—public group in Spanish focused on advocacy and education 

Addiction & Recovery Community Advocates—private group focusing on advocacy and education 

Affected by Addiction Support Group—private group for anyone who has a loved one in active addiction, individuals in Recovery, and anyone in active addiction themselves

Faces & Voices of Recovery—public group focusing on advocacy and education 

Friends of Bill W—private group practicing and living the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous 

Mobilize Recovery—private group sponsored by the Voices Project and Recovery Advocacy Project 

Recovery Dharma—private group, using Buddhist practices and principles to overcome addiction through meditation, self-inquiry, and community 

Phone Apps: 

12 Step Meditation Daily Reflections AA NA Al-Anon—guided meditations, music, prayers, and 12-step audio recovery content (Apple only) 

Connections—Addiction Policy Forum’s app with daily check-ins, discussion groups, and secure contact with counselors (Apple and Android) 

In the Rooms—easy access to virtual meetings, social networking tools, blogs, and recovery guides (Apple and Android)

Anyone in Bladen County may also call Eastpointe for mental health or substance use issues. 


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