Local Response to Obama’s Message: BSAN Is Addressing Opiate Crisis in Burke

Morganton, NCOctober 21, 2015: This afternoon, President Barack Obama spoke before the country about new and continuing public and private sector efforts to address prescription drug abuse and heroin use nation-wide. Burke Recovery Community Relations Director Joseph Marks responded in a formal announcement to the citizens of Burke County.

“In Burke County we are acutely aware of the toll the misuse of opioids has had on our community, “ stated Joseph Marks. “Through Burke Recovery and the Burke Substance Abuse Network coalition (BSAN), we have engaged Burke citizens in this challenge to make Burke County a vibrant recovering community and not a using one.”

Encouraged by the government’s admission of a national opioid crisis, Mr. Marks added, “I applaud the President for bringing this to the American people and for demanding action.”

A program of Burke Recovery with many community partners, BSAN brings together people from all sectors of the community to (a) network; (b) identify gaps in service; and (c) strategically plan response to community needs as they relate to the reduction of substance abuse in youth, young adults, their families, and all citizens of Burke County.

BSAN’s partner, Sheriff Steve Whisenant and his department’s Narcotics Task Force, along with many supporters, Project Lazarus, and BSAN’s Prescription Medication Task Force (RxEAP), are all working to reduce the number of overdoses as well as the amount of prescription medications circulating in our county. Currently, two secure medication drop boxes exist — one at the Burke County Sheriff’s Department and the other at the Valdese Police Department — and more are under consideration. In the Spring of 2015, Burke Recovery received funding through SAMHSA’s Strategic Prevention Framework – Partnership for Success grant for the prevention of youth and young adult prescription medication abuse and misuse.  With support of this grant and through partnerships within the BSAN coalition, data has been collected to illustrate what prescription misuse and abuse looks like in Burke County, particularly among youth.

Below are some highlighted results of a May 2015 survey conducted of 559 Burke County young people ages 11-25.

▪26% of teens surveyed answered yes to lifetime non-medical use of prescription medication;

▪80% of youth report that medication is left unlocked and accessible in their homes;

▪44% of youth agree or have no opinion that it is safer to get high on prescription medication than street drugs;

▪Most youth obtain Rx medications by taking it from someone they live with, buying it (not from a pharmacy), or a friend or family member gave it to them.

BSAN meets the last Friday morning of each month at 7:30am at the Morganton Community House and is open to anyone interested in learning more or getting involved. The next meeting is Friday, October 30.

Burke Recovery promotes public understanding and awareness that the alcoholic or chemically addicted person can be helped. The agency’s mission is “to work collaboratively with community partners to provide education/prevention, treatment and recovery support services to all citizens of Burke County regardless of their ability to pay.”  Burke Recovery is committed to the alleviation of the suffering and to the improvement of the lives of all persons affected by substance abuse and/or dependency. Inquire about BSAN or about Burke Recovery by contacting Joseph Marks, Burke Recovery Community Relations Director, at bcacdjoe@gmail.com.

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