Kinston recognizes International Overdose Awareness Day
Friday was a day to remember for a struggle millions deal with on a daily basis.
Aug. 31 was International Overdose Awareness Day, a global event with the aim to raise awareness of overdosing and addiction while also working on reducing the stigma of a drug-related death. It also recognizes pain felt by family and friends who have experienced losses due to overdoses.
As of August, nearly 1,800 people have died in the state due to overdosing, including 22 in Lenoir County. Port Health Services of Kinston program supervisor Nikki Lewis said the day is important in spreading the message while also providing assistance.
“We want to bring overdose awareness to our community,” Lewis said. “It touches so many lives — overdose is just like addiction: it doesn’t discriminate and it can affect anyone at any time. This is a real problem, but it is treatable and preventable. We want to make sure the people know how to get the treatment they need to prevent an overdose and treat an addiction.
“We offer good therapeutic treatment here, enhanced services that bring people in, get them plugged into recovery, to evidence based treatment models and to possible medication assisted treatment if needed.”
Chris Daughety was one person who received assistance from Port Health Services. Daughety, who said he has been clean since April 2017, spoke in front of a crowd at the Port Health Services building about the dangers of addiction, while also advocating for those suffering through similar issues to find help.
“This place has been wonderful and the people truly care,” Daughety said. “They don’t judge and were open to me each day until I was able to make my way to rehab — where else can you go with people who truly care?”
Linda Dunn lost her daughter in 2017 from an overdose and after falling into a bit of a spiral herself, found help and now works with people in Snow Hill dealing with similar issues.
“It was important because the loss of my daughter changed my life,” Dunn said. “I felt like I had no purpose and there was no outlet in my area. I ended up here and got much needed help, then six months later I had friends who lost loved ones. They said we needed something like this here in Greene County and I agreed.
“Now, we hold meetings on the second Thursday of every month at Calvary Memorial United Methodist Church. The first meeting, I didn’t do much advertising about and thought only two or three people would show up, but 11 did and it meant a lot.”
Lenoir County Commissioner J. Mac Daughety was in attendance. Daughety, chairman of the Lenoir County Opioid and Drug Abuse Task Force, is also a board member on the Wayne, Lenoir and Greene County Opioid Task Force and said he attended Friday’s event to get a stronger understanding of what survivors and victims go through.
“I’m concerned about drug abuse issues in Eastern North Carolina, particularly in Lenoir County,” Daughety said. “I wanted to listen to stories and show support, also wanting to be better educated on what folks are struggling with.”
Chief Clerical Officer Glenn Buck said overdosing, addiction and mental illness cannot be taken lightly.
“In our field, we’ve seen the horrors of death and overdoses from the beginning, but awareness has been on the rise as more people have gotten involved,” Buck said. “A day like this is important, but our goal is to eliminate addiction completely. Mental health is also a major issue — there’s a public outcry when it comes to someone shooting up a movie theatre, but there are cuts for funding for mental health which would help people before it got to that level.”