It was inspiring to look around a packed hall in downtown Asheville last Monday night and see about 250 people gathered for a town hall on opioid issues. The stories in the room were personal, heartbreaking, inspiring, and motivating. We heard updates about the latest local data, which shows promising reduction in overdose deaths and ER visits, heard about new initiatives like offering Medication Assisted Treatment in the county jail and heard about the power of peer-based recovery and support programs. The event was co-hosted by Buncombe County, the City of Asheville, MAHEC, and Vaya. I was honored to be among those who spoke.
This issue - how we come together to end the opioid crisis - matters a lot to me personally and because of the many community member I've met who've been personally impacted. I truly believe that the path to recovery starts by meeting people where they are, listening, offering a hand, and then helping people access the care they need and deserve.
Throughout the event, we heard this message echoed: we have to end the stigma around addiction, we have to treat people as people not as their disease, and we have to be relentless in responding to this crisis.
You can read coverage on the county's website here: https://www.buncombecounty.org/countycenter/news-detail.aspx?id=18251