BSAN graduates from CADCA’s national coalition academy and educates NC legislators in DC

With prescription drug overdoses now being the leading cause of death among young people in the U.S., surpassing car crashes, the Burke Substance Abuse Network (BSAN), a program of Burke Recovery, is engaging leaders, parents, youth, and many community partners to find solutions in our own county. Leaders from BSAN, Sarah Dergins, Prevention Specialist for Burke’s RxEAP (prescription medication use and misuse) task force, and Rhonda Cook, Coordinator for Burke’s Underage Drinking Initiative, spent last week educating legislators and attending informative workshops at the 26th Annual Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) National Leadership Forum in Washington DC. BSAN was recognized as a graduate of CADCA’s National Coalition Academy resulting from a year-long training and capacity building process. Funding for these programs are by NC-DHHS/DMHDDSAS through the Partnership for Success Prescription Drug program and NC Coalition Initiative (NCCI).

Highlights of the week-long conference included visiting the offices of State Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr to educate them on the consequences of substance use issues in Burke county and how BSAN is working with their multiple partners to reduce access among youth and adults in the state’s more rural areas. Leaders from CADCA and White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shared data and trends relevant to prevention and integration of care to improve overall health and wellness.

Attendees Sarah Dergins and Rhonda Cook return to Burke County to share their conference learnings and experiences with BSAN and community residents at their next free monthly breakfast meeting being held on Friday, February 26, at 7:30am in the Morganton Community House. The public is always invited to these monthly meetings and can reserve a seat by contacting Joe Marks,  In preparation for a future grant application for the Drug Free Communities (DFC) program, Sarah attended the new applicant workshop to understand how BSAN can successfully apply for this $125,000 a year grant for up to 10 years. In recent surveys, twenty-six percent of Burke County youth (age 12-25) reported having misused prescription drugs in their lifetime. Also, 37.8% of youth (middle- and high-school) reported in local surveys that they can either get alcohol from a parent or guardian, or can drink at home with no consequences. BSAN’s goals include, in part, reducing access to substances and affecting parental attitudes around underage drinking.

Anyone interested in information brought back from the Forum, in getting involved in BSAN, in setting up a presentation, or in organizing a youth prevention activity can contact Prevention Specialist Sarah Dergins at

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