ELIZABETHTOWN — The organization dedicated to helping fight the opioid epidemic in Bladen County will move forward under a new name.
The Bladen County Substance Abuse Task Force is the same group of representatives that has been operating as the Bladen County Opioid Task Force. Dr. Cathy Gantz, the program coodinator, announced the change on Thursday.
The group will next meet on Tuesday at 2 p.m. in the Bladen County Health Department. Syd Wiford, the principal consultant of Addiction, Consulting, and Training Associates, is expected to share a summary of the task force’s strategic plan.
Wiford and ACT’s participation was funded through a grant from the Kate B. Reynolds Foundation in order to conduct a county-wise assessment so that the strategic plan could be formed.
The strategic plan is the result of gathering surveys, staging focus groups and data collection by Bladen County Schools from some 1,400 students. The surveys from the task force, and its focus group meetings, began in August and continued into the fall. The data from the school district was collected from about 700 middle schoolers and 700 high schoolers in the 2017-18 school year. Another 100 surveys were generated from two schools this fall.
The community survey respondents were about 89 percent white and 72 percent women. Prescription medications, opioids, alcohol and drugs led respondents’ answers to what is most problematic in Bladen County.
There were a dozen focus groups held that drew more than 110 people. Their list for the county’s problems was led by alcohol, marijuana and methamphetamines.
The task force said in its release that it is considering helping start an Alcoholics Anonymous group in the county. Space to meet in has been acquired; the day and time are flexible. Anyone interested in establishing an AA meeting in Elizabethtown can contact Gantz at [email protected] or 910-872-6256.
Alan Wooten can be reached at 910-247-9132 or [email protected]. Twitter: @alanwooten19.