DOBSON — Surry County is hosting a community forum on the opioid epidemic in the county at Surry Community College on Friday, according to the county’s new opioid response director, Mark Willis.
The forum, free to the public, will be held in the grand hall of the Shelton-Badgett North Carolina Center for Viticulture and Enology on the SCC campus, 630 S. Main St., Dobson, from 9:30 a.m. to noon.
“The misuse and abuse of opioid pain medications in Surry County is devastating the social fabric of our families, churches and communities,” reads a flyer announcing the event on the county’s website. “This epidemic is non-discriminatory in its impact on all creeds, colors, ages and incomes and is burdening the support structures of our educational systems, law enforcement agencies and healthcare networks.”
“We’re initiating an effort to assemble a coalition of decision-makers,” said Willis. “We’ll inform citizens of what is trying to be done, and provide the community an opportunity to ask questions. It’s nothing fancy.
A. Thomas McLellan and Hugh Harris, along with Willis, will speak at the forum, with McLellan participating via Skype.
McLellan is the founder and chairman of the board of directors at the Treatment Research Institute, a not-for-profit research and development institute in Philadelphia. He served as deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy from 2009 until 2012.
Harris is outreach and policy counsel for North Carolina Department of Justice, Public Protection Division.
“I’ll open up,” said Willis, “and give an idea of what the county is trying to do. Then Tom (McLellan) will give a historic overlook of the problem. Hugh Harris will talk about what the state is doing.
“We are not going to get too wonky or too specific,” said Willis, “just put the problem into perspective.
“We’ll do it again periodically in the future to give updates on things we accomplish,” said Willis. “That’s always the hope, isn’t it? To accomplish something.”
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.