Community Connections Inc. tackles statewide drug epidemic


Drug overdose deaths don’t discriminate. Its a problem that affects everyone according to organizers with  Community Connections Inc. A non-profit aimed at bettering the lives of children and families all across the mountain state. Wednesday the organization hosted a special event aimed at spreading awareness on the thousands of lives lost due to overdoses.

“Since we’re the number one state in the nation with overdose deaths there is a huge stigma with people who are in recovery or the addicted population right now and so we kind of want to reverse that so people can go into recovery,” Erica Ellis-Bartling said. Bartling is the program coodrinator for Project Renew. 

In addition to spreading awareness, a memorial balloon release ceremony was also held. Black balloons represented the current state wide drug problem, and silver representing those that have died from overdoses and those who are still struggling.

For Dave Kirby, Wednesdays event hits close to home. He started with drugs at the age of 13 and struggled with addiction for more than a decade. 

“I knew for a fact that man if I didnt change I wouldn’t be here today,” Kirby said. But with the help of religion and faith he was able to turn his life around. 
 He’s now a pastor in Brushfork and goes around not just preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ but he also strives to help others recover and fight the same addictions he once dealt with.”There’s always hope and when you’re searching things there is a spiritual side of things that no matter who we are we can ask Jesus Christ to come in and to help us and he can fulfill that when we seem to have no friends at all he’s always a friend in times of need,” he said. 

In addition to spreading awareness the event also included Naloxone trainings and demonstrations.  Naloxone which is also known as Narcan is an over the counter drug that is used to reverse the effects of opioid overdoses. After receiving the training residents were able to take home their own Narcan kits.  

For more information on substance abuse treatment and behavorial health services call the 24 hour hotline at 1-844-HELPNOW. 

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