ELIZABETHTOWN — If Tuesday’s monthly meeting of the Bladen County Opioid Task Force is any indication, the bulls-eye being drawn on opioid abuse is betting drawn larger and larger.
About 58 people from all walks of life — from interested residents to law enforcement to the faith-based community to health care workers to elected officials to those in education to those who have lost a family to drug abuse to the local media — attended the gathering. Many had input on the numerous areas of discussion.
Charles Ray Peterson, a county commissioner who is heading up the task force, gave an update on the county’s effort to secure a grant through Eastpointe for $50,000 that would be used to combat the opioid issue.
“The grant (was to be hand-delivered by Wednesday) and, if we receive it, then we would most likely used Crossroads as a sub-contractor,” Peterson explained. “The county commissioners would monitor the funds and work with the sheriff’s office.”
According to Richard Allen, a narcotics deputy with the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office, a counseling service will be established at the Bladen County Detention Center for those who want help with their addictions.
“If people don’t want the help, then we’d be wasting our time,” added Sheriff Jim McVicker. “But I see a lot of good things coming out of this.”
Those attending also heard from Rebecca Hester, a pharmacist at The medicine Shoppe in Bladenboro, who said as many as 250 lock boxes have been provided through Eastpointe and are being given free of charge to those who would benefit from keeping their medicines out of reach of children or anyone who might be looking to steal medications.
Also, Cheryl Harris of Eastpointe talked about the upcoming Prom Promise pledge cards being aimed at East Bladen and West Bladen high schools; and Berkleigh Pridgeon with the Bladen County Health Department told the group about an opioid task force pamphlet being produced to help publicize where folks can find assistance and help, as well as how to get involved with the task force.
Wrapping up the meeting was a presentation by Holly Loyer, executive director of the Albemarle Teen Challenge program — a 12- to 15-month faith-based program begun in 2007 — who explianed the program deals with “almost any type of life challenge issue for men, women and children. She said there are 250 centers across the country, as well as more than 1,000 in 80 countries.
“When God wants up to do something important, he plucks the heartstrings of people,” she said. “And that’s what’s happening here in Bladen County.”
Loyer then introduced Amy Munn, a graduate of the Celebrate Recovery faith-based program, who shared her story of addiction, arrests and challenges to her marriage and children.
“I had to put God first and start to work through things with the help of a lot of people,” Munn said. “But when I did, things began to happen. And today, I don’t have any felonies against me, my marriage is restored, I have my children back and I’m just so grateful. The program really works.”
The next meeting of the Opioid Task Force will be Tuesday, Feb. 13, at 2 p.m. at Bladen Community College.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-862-4163 or firstname.lastname@example.org.