The opioid epidemic in north Alabama and what you need to know about the latest drug trends

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The world of drugs is real, and you’d often be surprised about where and how drugs are circulating.

Partnership for a Drug Free Community held a community-wide town hall meeting at Redstone Federal Credit Union on Wynn Drive to inform the public about the latest drug trends. WHNT NEWS 19 streamed the event live on Facebook and whnt.com.

Members of Today’s Youth, Tomorrow’s Leaders and a panel of influential, local leaders talked about the dramatic rise of deaths due to opiate use, the use of prescription and recreational drugs, and how advocates are making a difference.

Here is a list of the panelists: 

  • SGT Eddie Houk, STAC Team
  • Karren Crowson, Pharmacist
  • CPT Mike Salomonsky, Madison County Sheriff’s Department
  • Tyler Berryhill, Madison County Coroner
  • Telly Lanier, Wellstone Behavioral Health
  • Don Webster, COO HEMSI
  • Today’s Youth – Tomorrow’s Leaders (TYTL) Members

Panelists offered insight and information about drugs and ways to prevent addiction. What is an opioid? It’s a prescription drug used to treat pain. However, people misuse it by self-medicating, giving it to other people, taking it in ways other than prescribed and getting high. It’s leading to a growing number of overdoses. Madison County first responder, Don Webster from HEMSI, shared a sobering statistic.

“Back in 2016, we had 1.2 patients a day, 8 patients a week that we were experiencing,” says Webster. “From January 1st to the end of June of 2017, so far we’ve had 325 patients suspected of heroine or some type of opioid utilization which is basically 13 patients a week.”

Webster also shared that the number of times they’ve had to use Narcan has soared to 440 instances so far this year. That’s the drug used to reverse an overdose.

Opioids treat pain, but are being misused and often mixed with street drugs. The combination is proving to be deadly. Madison County Coroner Tyler Berryhill says they see a drug-related death every five days. The panelists agreed that you should educate yourself and advocate.

 

“Educate yourself and your whole household,” says Telly Lanier, a drug prevention specialist with Wellstone Behavioral Health. “Sit down and talk with your kids and young people. It doesn’t matter how young they are. Start off educating them at a young age at home.  Advocate and help bring prevention programs into your children’s school.”

What else can you do to be a part of the solution?

Here are some of the suggestions offered by the panelists during the forum:

  • Talk to your doctor and ask about non-opioid pain options. If you do get them, ask for a limited supply.
  • Properly secure medications in your home, especially away from children.
  • If you’re not using the medication anymore, get rid of it.
  • Dispose of prescription drugs properly at the Partnership for a Drug Free Community take back events or pharmacies that accept them.
  • Call your local law enforcement agency to see if they have secure drop boxes to take old or unused medications.
  • Don’t flush drugs down the toilet. You can add them to coffee beans or clean kitty litter, add the mixture to a resealable bag and throw  it in the trash.

For further information, contact Partnership for a Drug Free Community at (256)539-7339 or email: partnership01@comcast.net