Montgomery, AL – The Council on Substance Abuse-NCADD (COSA-NCADD) hosted a Town Hall Meeting on October 6, 2016 at Frazer Church. The town hall was about preventing opioid and opiate addiction and dependency.
The town hall opened up with a video of individuals sharing their experiences with substance abuse and journey to recovery. Following were presentations from several guest speakers to include COSA-NCADD Behavioral Health Prevention Director Kwatasian Hunt, Bradford Health Services National Coordinator of Adolescent Marketing Angela Camp, Motivational Speaker S. Idris Mambazo, and U.S. Congresswoman Martha Roby.
Kwatasian Hunt spoke about the current trends in prescription drug use. She mentioned how prescription drugs are easily accessible through medicine cabinets in the home, doctor shopping (Going to different doctors for different ailments), friends, and drug dealers. “There are more documented prescription drug deaths than illegal drug use” Hunt said. She also said that some medications are being over prescribed and that college students are selling them on campus.
Hunt also talked about trends in heroin use. “When people can’t afford prescription drugs heroin is the next best thing” she said while explaining how 50% of heroin users started on opioid pain medicine. One of the newest trends with heroin is that it comes laced with fentanyl, a synthetic drug for a painkiller. Hunt said that this is 100 times more potent and can even cause death. “We have crisis” she said. “We have a lot of work to do. Jobs, families, and individuals are impacted.”
Angela Camp discussed youth and substance abuse. She said that IV drug use and heroin use have increased to epidemic levels. Women and adolescents are the two groups most affected. Camp also explained how heroin comes disguised as vicodin. “Opioids scrambles the brain” she said. This makes it so hard to get to recovery because it affects the brain.”
S. Idris Mambazo shared his experiences of growing up with parents who had a heroin addiction. He also talked about how he overcame his personal struggle with drug addiction. “Addiction is not new” said Mambazo. “What is new is the face of those that are dying.”
U.S. Congresswoman Martha Roby discussed legislation that Congress has passed to address alcohol and substance abuse. She said that in 2014 there were 47, 000 overdose drug deaths in the U.S. with 60% being prescription drugs. Roby also mentioned that Alabama had the 5th largest increase in overdose deaths. “Four out of five heroin addicts start with abusing painkillers” Roby said. “Opioid prescriptions become expensive and unavailable.”
The 2016 Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act passed earlier this year. Roby says that this bill will help combat the problem of addiction in a meaningful way, improve prevention and education efforts, expand access to addiction services, and improve policies in the V.A. The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act was introduced to bring reform to the current mental health care system. “We have to rebuild our country’s mental health infrastructure” Roby stated.
The event concluded with an open panel discussion on substance abuse related issues and prevention strategies. Bradford Health Services set up a vendor booth and passed out information.
The mission of COSA-NCADD is to “reduce the incidence and prevalence of the disease of alcoholism, other drug addiction diseases, and related problems.” For more information call 334-262-1629 or visit www.cosancadd.org.