By the BladenOnline Team
On Saturday, Elizabethtown Baptist Church hosted a Round Table Discussion on the Opioid Epidemic in North Carolina. The event’s goal was to define the progress made; and challenges still faced, gain understanding and network, and commit to working together toward solutions in the future. Drug overdoses, sex trafficking, and fentanyl misuse are three significant concerns stemming from the epidemic.
Wayne Shaffer, Bladen County GOP Chair, opened the event in prayer. He added, “This is a non-partisan event, because (clearly!) the subject area affects everyone!”
When speaking about the epidemic, District Court Judge Jason Disbrow said, “We are in a crisis.”
Alecia Roberts, host of the event, addressed the table with failures in different systems. She discussed the current shortcomings of the juvenile behavioral health system, the mental health system, the correctional system, the medical health system, and the judicial system.
Roberts’ comments came from the experiences she had with her daughter, Heather. According to Roberts the juvenile behavioral health system is where Heather learned worse behaviors and became sexually active. The mental health and medical health systems gave Heather prescriptions without a real treatment plan for her prognosis. Then when Heather was placed in the correctional system she was “recruited into sex trafficking.” At the end, Heather’s death was captured on video, Roberts explained, where a man “helped her inject lethal doses of heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine into her arm; when she collapsed on the floor, he walked away and never called 911.”
At the end of her report Roberts stated, “My interpretation from that is the dealer gets one free kill before they can be held accountable.”
Columbus County Sheriff, Jody Greene and Agent Jon Oliver spoke about the Harm Reduction and Law Enforcement Diversion Programs. About 90% of crimes result from a substance misuse problem and putting people in prison does not work. Sgt. Oliver spoke about the need for more programs and treatment facilities. Funding for treatment programs needs to be available and the stigma around drug misuse needs to end.
Before the event ended US Congressman David Rouzer agreed, “Communication is the answer.”
Some solutions to combat the epidemic that were discussed are education in schools starting at a young age, more level four treatment facilities, more grants to support programs to prevent drug misuse.