Untitled Document

Greenbrier County CARxE Coalition launches drug awareness toolkit

After a year of collaboration with several local organizations, the Greenbrier County CARxE Coalition (GCCC) launched the Prescription Opioid and Heroin Awareness Toolkit June 27 at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine Student Center.

The toolkit is one of many steps the coalition is taking to address the substance abuse issue in Greenbrier County. The prevention guide educates the public about the prescription drug abuse problem, provides local resources to families, organizations and those battling addiction as well as raises awareness in the community of the current epidemic.

“Our goal is to connect the community with the resources available. We also want to have people bring the needed resources to develop support with substance abuse.” said Drema Mace, Ph.D., director of the WVSOM Center for Rural and Community Health (CRCH).

The crisis is widespread not only in Greenbrier County but across West Virginia. In a recent study by the West Virginia Health Statistics Center showed at least 818 in the state died of drug overdoses in 2016. The coalition hopes the toolkit will be an example for other counties on how to address the crisis.

Another objective the GCCC hopes to address and remove the stigma related to those who are fighting addiction and their families by providing faces of the epidemic. Two people shared their experiences about substance abuse during the evening event each from a different perspective.

Patricia Browning, D.O. gave a parent’s perspective of the crisis. Two of daughters died of an overdosed after years of struggling with addiction. She explained that her family’s lives were full of shame and guilt due to their drug habit. Browning encouraged the audience to learn from her story and to be compassionate to those dealing with a drug dependency so others do not have to feel the same.

 “This drug epidemic is like the epidemic of the 1900s the contagious diseases the children got. It hits every race, religion, socioeconomic group,” said Patricia Browning, D.O.

Casey Butler, a recovering addict, echoed the same sentiment of support for addicts because it can happen to anyone.

“It does not discriminate against anyone. I never set out to get addicted. That wasn’t my dream,” Butler said.

Butler struggled with addiction for 18 years. In his sobriety he has become a peer recovery coach for the Greenbrier County Drug Court. He believes the solution is a community effort and is happy to be one piece of the puzzle by driving people to rehab or leading support groups for other recovering addicts. Butler continued by saying it was important to show others that recovery is a possibility.

Both Browning and Butler acknowledged the coalition’s prevention guide was an important step for the community addressing the opioid crisis.

Laura Baker, an audience member was inspired by the stories shared throughout the evening;

“I absolutely cannot wait to start the next chapter of my life helping those that are suffering from this terrible disease. The negative stigma of drug addiction has to end. The only way we are going to overcome this epidemic is by helping those in need. Instead of turning your cheek, be there,” Baker said on her Facebook page.

The prevention guide will be distributed throughout Greenbrier County to receive a toolkit contact the CRCH at http://crch.wvsom.edu. To become involved in GCCC contact the Family Resource Network of Greenbrier County at greenbrierfrn@yahoo.com. GCCC partners with over 40 organizations with in Greenbrier County.