Opioid Task Force gathers for action updates

By: W. Curt Vincent - Bladen Journal

ELIZABETHTOWN — Thirty-four of Bladen County’s movers, shakers and leaders came together Tuesday for the monthly Opioid Task Force meeting at the county health department, where numerous ideas and plans of action were discussed in an effort to locally fight the trend of opioid abuse.

“I am so thrilled to see so many here today,” said County Chairman Charles Ray Peterson. “It looks like we’ve got all or most of the main players (and) we’ve got a lot to do.”

More than one-third of those in attendance were from the county’s faith-based community, one of the areas where reaching more people would be important.

The discussion included a report that 250 residential lock boxes have been ordered specifically for Bladen County, which will help residents using opiates to keep their medications locked up at home.

Rebecca Hester, a pharmacist with The Medicine Shoppe in Bladenboro, said costs prohibit her from giving out lock boxes to those customers getting opioid prescriptions, but they are handing out pamphlets that explain how to keep medications locked up.

Amy Munn spoke about plans to create a handful of options for getting support and treatment to inmates both in jail and once they are released. Those options include classes and counseling in jail, support groups and treatment once out, and creating a Celebrate Recovery Ministry.

Representatives from Eastpointe talked about the use of Narcan and Naloxone, two opioid overdoes reversal medications, saying some agencies in the county were already using the meds and that more has been ordered for other law enforcement agencies in the area. There was also discussion about the availability of $31 million in grants to help fight opioid abuse.

The group assigned to explore community education noted that an interest meeting for parents and grandparents who have children or grandchildren struggling with addiction will be held Monday at 6 p.m. at the Bladen County Public Library in Elizabethtown. There will also be community meetings set up in the future with speakers to discuss how to lock away meds and notice the signs of opioid abuses.

There was also some discussion about passing out pamphlets at school, recreational and chucrh sporting events.

Finally, another group spoke about looking into other locations for public lock boxes for anyone wanting to properly discard their unused medications. Currently, there are lock boxes at the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office and Elizabethtown Police Department.

“One thing to keep in mind is that, according to the DEA, it’s mandatory for those lock boxes to be under video surveillance 24/7 …” Richard Allen of the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office said. “We need to get one in Bladenboro, White Lake and the southern part of the county — but I don’t know if there is a camera available there.”

s the meeting began to wrap up, Peterson was insistent that a representative from Bladen County Schools become part of the gatherings.

“This is important, people, and we need to have them here,” he said. “This is a movement in Bladen County that everyone needs to take seriously.”

The Opioid Task Force will take December off for the holidays, but come back together on Tuesday, Jan. 9, at 2 p.m. at the Bladen County Health Department.

W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or cvincent@bladenjournal.com.

W. Curt Vincent

Bladen Journal