Opioid forum to tackle addiction, prescription misuse on Feb. 16

“It’s a national epidemic,” she said. “It touches everybody in some way.”

Posted 2/7/19

By Zachary Horner

News + Record Staff

PITTSBORO — Rita Van Duinen’s daughter graduated from Northwood High School last year, but there was a hole in her class.

Missing was Boone Cummins, …

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Opioid forum to tackle addiction, prescription misuse on Feb. 16

“It’s a national epidemic,” she said. “It touches everybody in some way.”

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Posted

PITTSBORO — Rita Van Duinen’s daughter graduated from Northwood High School last year, but there was a hole in her class.

Missing was Boone Cummins, who died during the year from an opioid overdose, a day before he was scheduled to enter rehab.

Challenged by the story, and a documentary another one of her daughter’s classmates made on the topic, Van Duinen helped organize the first “Community Awareness Event,” scheduled for 1 p.m. on Feb. 16 at the Chatham Community Library in Pittsboro. The event will feature a screening of the documentary “Kids” by Chatham County resident Zoe Willard, who will join Cummins’ mother Julie and sister Elly and county officials and health experts in a forum titled, “It Started with a Script: Prescription Drug Misuse, Addiction, and the Opioid Crisis.”

Van Duinen, who started at the library nearly two years ago as the branch manager, said she has been working on increasing and improving the programming the library offers.

“After seeing Zoe’s documentary and sharing it, I thought, ‘We’ve got to have a conversation about this,’” Van Duinen said.

The event promises, according to a press release, “an in-depth look at the local impacts of prescription drug misuse, opioids and the science of addiction, and treatment and recovery.”

It comes at a time where opioids and their effect on users has become a national topic of concern. In October 2017, President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a Public Health Emergency. A recent report by the nonprofit National Safety Council said the odds of dying from an opioid overdose (1 in 96) in 2017 were greater than dying from a motor vehicle crash (1 in 103).

According to the Chatham Health Alliance’s 2018 Community Health Assessment, numbers of opioid overdoses and abuse of prescription drugs are “lower than many counties in the state,” and the crisis does not land in the Alliance’s top 10 health issues facing Chatham County. Between 1999 and 2014, there were seven self-inflicted and 24 unintentional prescription opioid poisoning deaths, which were “significantly below state average,” according to a study by students at the UNC Gillings School of Public Health in conjunction with the CHA.

But that same study states that the county “has a problem with over-prescription, opioid abuse and opioid addiction,” while having success “in maintaining low levels of overdoses.” The Community Health Assessment reports that 6 percent of survey respondents reported abusing prescription drugs in the previous year and that 80 percent of those drugs abused were opioids. Seventeen percent of Chatham high schoolers reported taking prescription pain medicine without a doctor’s prescription or different than a doctor told them how to, up from 11 percent in 2014.

It’s those numbers, those stories that caused Van Duinen to work with law enforcement to set up the forum. Other participants include Chatham County Sheriff Mike Roberson, addiction expert Dr. Joe Mancini and Health Policy Analyst Casey Hilliard from the Chatham County Health Department.

The event is free and open to the public. Van Duinen said there are already discussions about having a “part two” of the forum on the western side of the county.

WANT TO GO?

“It Started with a script: Prescription Drug Misuse, Addiction, and the Opioid Crisis”

  • A A forum on addiction and the opioid crisis, featuring community members and health and law enforcement officials.
  • I Includes a screening of the documentary “Kids,” made by Northwood High School alumna Zoe Willard.
  • 11 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 16, Chatham Community Library in Pittsboro
  • FFree, open to the public
  • A recent report by the nonprofit National Safety Council said the odds of dying from an opioid overdose (1 in 96) in 2017 were greater than dying from a motor vehicle crash (1 in 103).

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