Sampson Independent

Turning the tables on opioid crisis

The addiction is real and often brought on by legitimate uses of prescribed pain relievers such as hydrocodone, morphine and oxycodone; the self-destruction is evident on the faces of the abusers and in their declining health; the pain and devastation to families is as piercing as the cut of a razor-sharp knife.

The abuse knows no race or socio-economic class; it seems to crush all those who fall prey to the ever-increasing need for the drug the body cries out for; in many cases, it kills.

That is what Sampson and nearly every city and state in the nation is facing as the opioid problem continues to escalate.

The numbers are shocking — and growing. Just three years ago, Sampson had nearly 50 unintentional medication or drug poisoning deaths; in the same amount of time, there were 40 prescription opioid poisoning deaths. To drive the point further into our minds, and hopefully our hearts, Sampson had the highest number of overdose deaths in 2014 among all of North Carolina’s 100 counties.

It’s not a pleasant

And that is why local Substance Abuse Coalition (formerly the Meth Task Force) members believe a community-wide drug summit is imperative to helping fight the seemingly never-ending battle with opioids and other legal and illegal substances.

The summit, slated for Wednesday, Sept. 12, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Agri-Exposition Center and being hosted by the coalition and Sampson County government with the endorsement of county commissioners, is not meant for merely government officials, doctors, law enforcement officers and other health personnel. In fact quite the opposite is true.

This event is geared for everybody and is meant to bring people from across the county together to share the problems they’ve experienced, to see that they aren’t facing these issues alone and to receive training on treating the misuse, preventing it and living with it. The summit is expected to cover the gamut, from education, awareness, prevention to intervention, resources for families dealing with a family member who is addicted, and even advising the elderly on how to safely store their opioids.

That mean’s the doors are open to moms and dads, sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews, grandparents, aunts and uncles, neighbors; it means blacks, whites, Native Americans, Hispanics, Orientals and every other race.

Rich or poor, middle-aged or young, and no matter the color of your skin or the faith you practice, opioid abuse has touched us all in one way or another. There’s no shame in acknowledging it; in fact, it’s the first step to ensuring that together, we win this very difficult, heart-wrenching battle.

We applaud the county and coalition members for working diligently to put together a program that will have enormous benefits to all those who attend. But the success of the program does not lie with those organizing the event. The value of what is being offered will be determined by the participation from those living with the problem and those directly and indirectly dealing with the abuse fallout.

In the pages of our newspaper over the course of the next couple months, we will be sharing the stories of how opioid abuse has taken its toll on individuals and their families; where Sampson stands in the growing problem; how law enforcement deals with the problem and much more. It is our effort to put a face on the problem that needs not just our attention but the attention of this entire community.

Burying our heads in the sand and pretending the problem doesn’t exist is not the answer. Accepting that we have a problem and working together to do something about it will.

It is our hope this summit will be a turning point in our war against this growing crisis. Only you can ensure that it will be.