Special to Iredell Free News
The Drug-Alcohol Coalition of Iredell is planning a series of community conversations on substance misuse topics throughout 2023 in an effort to educate the community and increase create advocacy for reducing substance misuse in Iredell County.
The kickoff event, “In The Know: A DACI Community Conversation on Substance Misuse,” will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on February 7 at the Charles Mack Citizen Center in Mooresville. Lunch will be provided.
Registration on Eventbrite is appreciated to help with event planning but not required. Registrants will receive priority seating.
This event is for everyone — the faith community, school employees, business leaders, government leaders, elected officials, law enforcement, first responders, parents, and interested community members — because solving the substance misuse crisis will take everyone connecting and committing to the prevention and treatment cause.
The event keynote speaker will be Dr. Lonise Bias, who will bring encouragement to attendees through her message that “Hope is Not Extinct.”
Bias’s personal journey with substance misuse began in June of 1986 after the death of her oldest son, Len Bias, a University of Maryland basketball player.
He died of cocaine intoxication while celebrating with friends just two days after being selected as the first pick in 1986 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics.
In December of 1990, the Bias family’s second son, Jay, was the victim of a drive-by shooting.
Bias is president of the Bias Foundation Inc., a nonprofit life investment organization that develops community-based programs supporting families, communities and youth.
She is an internationally known motivational speaker, trainer, consultant, and certified teen and family life coach. Her message is one of hope and inspiration, and she provides tools to empower youth, families and communities, according to her foundation’s website.
In addition to the keynote, the event will include Mooresville Mayor Miles Atkins, an “Iredell State of the County” session featuring DACI Executive Director Shane Nixon, Vice President of Iredell Health System Medical Group Harold Brown, Iredell County EMS Director Blair Richey, Sheriff Darren Campbell, and Mooresville Graded School District representative Tanae McLean.
District Attorney Sarah Kirkman is also confirmed for the program. Other county and health-related partners are also being invited to speak on their perspectives on substance misuse and the relationship to the social determinants of health.
“We don’t want to preach to you, the choir. We need to reach everyone in the county,” said Nixon. “By the end of 2023, we want anyone who will take the time to participate to know what they need to know about substance misuse in Iredell County because knowing is far more than half the battle.”
“If you’re a parent, what do you need to know? If you are a student, what do you need to know? If you are a minister, what do you need to know? If you work in public health or the criminal justice system, what do you need to know?”
According to Nixon, the goal of the series is “to flatten the statistical trajectory of substance misuse in Iredell County through the collective efforts of all concerned and committed community members.”
For more information, email Nixon at email@example.com.
WHAT IS SUBSTANCE MISUSE?
According to the American Public Health Association, substance misuse includes “the use of illegal drugs and the inappropriate use of legal substances, such as alcohol and tobacco.”
Whether through over-indulgence in alcohol, misuse of prescription medication, or use of illegal drugs, such misuse is harmful to community health.
The Center for Disease Control’s National Center for Health Statistics reported an estimated 100,306 drug overdose deaths in the United States during the 12-month period ending in April 2021, an increase of 28.5 percent from the 78,056 deaths during the same period the year before.
Alcohol related injuries result in the deaths of 88,000 people annually, making it the third most common preventable cause of death in the U.S.
Substance misuse also affects the economy. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates the United States loses $232 billion in health care costs and $740 billion overall related to misuse of legal and illegal substances.
Since 2012, the Drug-Alcohol Coalition of Iredell has been committed to the reduction and prevention of substance use, misuse, and overdose deaths and focused on building community awareness, education, and prevention.
The group is passionate about providing support and hope for individuals and family member of those struggling with substance use issues.
The coalition is made up of community agencies and non-profits, county agencies, emergency responders, individuals in recovery, law enforcement, mental health providers, elected officials, hospitals and medical professionals, local school systems, faith community, pharmacists, substance use treatment providers, peer support specialists, and concerned community members and family members.
The group meets the third Monday of each month at the Cooperative Extension Center at 444 Bristol Drive from 12 noon to 1 p.m.