05/11/17 — WCC forum will confront opioid crisis

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WCC forum will confront opioid crisis

By Joey Pitchford
Published in News on May 11, 2017 3:08 PM

Opiate addiction is a growing problem in Wayne County, and knowledge is the key to fighting back, says Mental Health Association of Wayne County board member Judy Howell.

To that goal, the Mental Health Association and the Wayne Community College public safety department will host a viewing of Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict, May 16 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the WCC auditorium. The documentary follows the lives of several people addicted to opiates, detailing their struggles and their current situations as told by themselves or those close to them.

Howell said that the film is a good way to understand the hardships experienced by people whom society often pushes to the side. The kinds of people affected range anywhere from a popular high school cheerleader to an average middle-aged woman, Howell said.

"It's a good depiction of what can happen to any family out there," she said. "We're doing this to raise awareness and help people know what kinds of resources are out there. People often feel embarrassed to seek help, and they shouldn't be."

People who have not dealt with drug addiction often incorrectly treat it as a moral failing of the person who is addicted, Howell said.

"Addiction is not just 'I'm doing drugs." It is a disease, a disability," she said. "People need to know that there are families out there just like them. Reach out and help each other."

Following the documentary, medical and mental health professionals will hold a panel discussion on opiate abuse and addiction from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Both the documentary viewing and the panel discussion are free to attend, and local law enforcement agencies have also been invited.

Howell encouraged anyone interested to come to the viewing, and said that opiate addiction influences more people than one might think.

"If you think you're not affected, come on out anyway," she said. "You might know someone.

Anyone who wants more information can contact Howell at 919-222-8165.