Leaders and community members from Brunswick County gathered in the Southport Oak Island Chamber of Commerce Monday to discuss the area's ongoing opioid crisis.
District Attorney Jon David of Bladen, Brunswick, and Columbus counties spoke about the opioid crisis with Oak Island Mayor Cin Brochure and Brunswick County Health Services Director Chris Harrelson.
According to David, the entire community needs to be engaged so this problem can be solved.
"A strong grassroots effort is vital. The solution to this problem exists largely outside of the criminal justice system, so it's important to forge strong relationships with those in the business community, civic organizations, and faith-based leaders," David said. "The meeting today had a wonderful cross-section of area leaders and we need to keep the conversation going.”
Members of the chamber and others, including church leaders, discussed what is being done and what needs to be done in the county to fight the opioid crisis.
According to director of Brunswick County Health Services, Cris Harrelson, about 90 pills per person were distributed in 2016 in the county compared to about 66 per person at the state level.
“The opioid crisis is so widespread that I would dare say that there is not a person in Brunswick County that hasn’t been affected either directly or indirectly," Harrelson said. "We all have had family members or know of friends that have lost family ones or have experienced some other devastating effects from this devastating opioid crisis."
The opioid crisis is estimated to have cost about $51.7 million, about $407 per person, in the county, according to data from 2016.
Community members said the problem has not only affected family and friends, but the entire community, and they want to take back their home from this crisis.
”When we see it happening, we can say, 'I just don’t want it happening in my neighborhood' and we have to get that message out that Brunswick County is a good place to live," said Kathryn Lawler, who owns a business in Brunswick County. "It is a great place to vacation, to raise kids here, and we want to make sure that people believe that for the future."
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