On Wednesday, July 11, Wesley Freedom United Methodist Church will host the third in a series of quarterly free question-and-answer sessions on the topic of addiction.
Community Q & A: Tackling Addiction, will begin at 7 p.m. at the church, 961 Johnsville Road, Eldersburg, and will feature talks by people involved in treatment and recovery, an opportunity for discussion and a new training portion, according to Sharon Feldman, church director of community life.
“This event is going to be two-fold,” she said. “It will be addressing overcoming the stigma that comes with addiction, and then we are also going to offer a Narcan training.”
Narcan is a brand name for the drug naloxone, an antidote to heroin and other opioid drug poisoning, typically deployed though a nasal spray.
Training in the use of naloxone will be offered by Beth Schmidt, who conducts trainings as a volunteer with the Carroll County Health Department.
“If you want to stay for the training, I will train you and you will walk away with a kit that night,” Schmidt said. “You can stay for the training and decide you don’t actually want a kit.”
Naloxone/Narcan has been used at least 28 times by Carroll County law enforcement officials alone to revive people who had overdosed on opioid drugs between January and May of 2018, according to statistics from the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office. The antidote may be deployed more frequently by trained civilians who do not report that use, given those uses are not reported to the Sheriff’s Office — there were 104 heroin overdoses in the first five months of 2018, but only six were fatal.
“The attorney general recommended that everybody carry it,” Schmidt said of naloxone. “People are going to be educated and they are going to walk away with a lot more information than they ever thought.”
The church first launched the series of Q and A sessions in January, as part of an effort to develop a family resources center in South Carroll, Feldman said, a place where people could find support whether they were dealing with addiction, mental health or any other other crisis.
Schmidt, who lost her son Sean to an opioid overdose in 2013, has already been involved in that effort.
“I run a peer support group at Wesley Freedom for parents who have lost children to overdose,” she said. “We meet there once a month.”
What Schmidt has found is these quarterly meetings at the church have already been helpful in erasing the stigma around addiction, making it easier for families to seek help, and to connect to one another and find much needed support.
“There are people out there suffering that don’t feel comfortable coming forward, but if they come out to an event like this and they realize there are other people who are going through the same thing, it’s going to help them,” she said. “A lot of times people, say, ‘Well, if the person in active addiction would just reach out for help.’ Well, we don’t make that easy for people. So this is an avenue to make that easier for people, to open up that conversation. We’re going to start that conversation and carry it on at home.”