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COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. – It is an epidemic which has a firm grip on much of north Alabama. The opioid crisis is going to take a lot of people coming together to find the answers. A meeting at Northwest-Shoals Community College on Wednesday had community leaders putting their heads together.

“I think the biggest thing everyone is realizing is everybody has good ideas, but we need to have maybe one entity that kind of organizes everything,” explained Colbert County Dr. Aaron Karr.

Karr has seen what opioids are doing to individuals and families. He says with a relapse rate of 90%, addicts rarely get lasting help.

“Addiction is very lonely. They need encouragement, they need love, but they need some type of structure as they are learning their responsibility and getting back on their feet.”

The Appalachian Regional Commission has stepped up to facilitate open discussions like this one. They say the end goal is to get those wrapped up in the crisis back to being productive citizens.

“We are building a new program focusing on getting people that have been through substance abuse treatment and then getting them back into the workforce,” said Tim Thomas, the Co-Chairman of the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Thomas says the economy is going strong, and the labor supply is short. It is going to take the people recovering and community leaders working together to help end the crisis.

U.S. Congressman Robert Aderholt’s office helped put together Wednesday’s meeting with community leaders from across northwest Alabama.