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Family program targets opioids

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BY AMELIA HARPER
Staff Writer

Friday, March 15, 2019

Nash County has been selected for a new opioid education course designed to work with children age 10-14 and their families.

The new Empowering Youth and Families Program for Nash County is recruiting families who are interested in attending a 12-week series of meetings at 6 p.m. Thursdays beginning on March 21 at Nashville United Methodist Church at 209 East Washington St. in Nashville. The program is funded by a grant from the state of North Carolina and is administered through the 4-H Extension Office at the Nash County Agriculture Center.

“North Carolina has an opioid crisis,” said Adrienne Williams, the new program assistant for the Empowering Youth and Families Program for Nash County. “To address this crisis through prevention, Nash County has received a grant that is called Empowering Families Empowering Youth. We have a trained staff that will deliver this program to families that have youth between the ages of 10-14.”

According to information provided by the N.C. Cooperative Extension Office, North Carolina ranked 16th nationally in health care costs associated with opioid abuse, spending an average of $582 million on dealing with the issue.  North Carolina rural counties have seen a 116 percent increase in opioid-related deaths in recent years.

“Only a few counties have received this grant and Nash County is one of them,” Williams said. “The grant is a two-year grant, though we are hoping it will be extended. The grant targets rural counties because in looking at the opioid crisis in North Carolina, it looks like rural counties have been the hardest hit. Some of them have opioids prescribed by doctors at a much higher rate than other counties.”

The Empowering Youth and Families Program is designed to prevent teen substance abuse and other behavior problems while strengthening parenting skills to help improve family cohesiveness. It is a 12-week class for families to come together and build communication skills, family cohesiveness with an age-appropriate substance abuse prevention emphasis, Williams said.

“I grew up with my grandparents in a rural county. remember how they were empowered by learning things from their friends and neighbors,” Williams said. “I think that is still true today. People often glaze over things that are presented on the Internet. It is important that we work with friends and neighbors to teach people to advocate for themselves in situations where they are presented with the option to use opioids and to share this information with others.”

The meetings are free of charge as it is paid for by the Rural Health and Safety Administration and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. Supper will be provided at the meetings. A family weekend retreat is also included in the program.

The number of participants is limited and participants must sign up for the program in advance. Anyone interested in attending should call Williams at 252-459-9810 or send an email to ADWill23@ncsu.edu as soon as possible.

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