The Alexander County Substance Use Disorder Prevention Coalition met in the Alexander County Health Department conference room on Tuesday, September 19, 2023.
The Substance Use Disorder Coalition was initially formed as a sub-committee of the Healthy Alexandrian Committee. This was in response to the focus priority areas from the Community Health Assessments that are given out to the community every four years to assess the health of the county.
Substance use has always been a top priority and focus in Alexander County and leaders saw that with the continuous responses on the Community Health Assessments (CHAs) and with the number of calls being ran for overdoses within the county. The Substance Use Disorder Coalition started in 2018 in response to the CHA as a priority intervention to work on improving the issue at hand in Alexander County. Due to Covid-19, the Coalition was put on hold. In June of 2022, the Coalition started meeting again, explained Preparedness Coordinator Mallory Chapman.
Chapman, along with Health Educator Kaitlyn Graves and David Moose, Consolidated Human Services Director and Procurement Specialist for Alexander County, facilitate the Coalition meetings.
The primary goal of the Coalition is to improve community education and awareness on the harmful effects of drugs, implement programs within the county with hopes to decrease the unsettling number of overdose calls, and to provide support to those struggling with addiction by connecting them with resources that could save their life and help them recover.
The county receives Opioid Settlement Funding that will allow implementation of these programs and improve the overall health and well-being of Alexander County.
Currently, there is a PORT (Post Overdose Response Team) Community Paramedic position that is funded through the settlement. Long-time pastor and paramedic Shannon Childers has been assigned to this position. He said over the weekend he attended or is following up on five separate overdose calls in the county.
Childers is tasked with contacting the patients on overdose calls in a zero to 72 hour period afterward, connecting the patient with resources to help prevent future overdoses, and following up to make sure they receive help.
An sample kit was displayed on Tuesday for possible inclusion in PORT visits. It includes a fentanyl test kit, Naracan, Benadryl, and overdose information.
The Coalition is looking at developing a Family Treatment Court within Alexander, and are also meeting with the schools in hopes to present educational materials within the school systems as a prevention method. The presentation of resources within the schools are not funded by the Opioid Settlement Funding. Agencies are working together to make this happen free of charge.
Coalition members are working on outreach to the churches in the county also.
For more information on the Coalition, call Mallory Chapman, 828-352-7784.