Plenty of room in the arena

I became aware of a Facebook group recently called “Finding Solutions — Waynesville.” On the surface it appeared this group was looking for solutions to the town’s social issues of homelessness and addiction, so I joined in so I could observe and perhaps offer valuable resources to the discussion — after all, The Smoky Mountain News has covered these issues extensively in the last several years.

Banishment law changes considered in Cherokee

Tribal Council will consider a pair of ordinances proposing changes to the tribe’s banishment laws during its March 5 meeting, and with discussions held during the Jan. 9 Tribal Council meeting and a Feb. 26 work session in the rearview, a final vote is likely. 

Studies show correlation between PTSD and substance abuse

By Taylor Sexton • Special to SMN | Emma Jordan lives in Hatteras, North Carolina, where she spends her days working hard, soaking in the sun’s rays, and struggling with PTSD and substance abuse.

“My whole deal was to bottle it up, leave it somewhere buried deep down inside,” Jordan said. “Somewhere you can’t think about it.” 

Haywood commissioners hear opioid update

It appears that some progress is being made in the fight against drug addiction in Haywood County, but a recent presentation to Haywood County commissioners proves there’s still a long way to go.

Peer support inside jail helps inmates have hope

CJ Deering sat at her desk inside the Haywood County Detention Center when she got a surprise phone call from a woman who had been sentenced to prison nine months ago. 

We must be honest about adolescent addiction

By Beth Young • Guest Columnist

“It’s just a phase.” “They are just being teenagers.” “I drank when I was their age and I was fine.” These are things I know that I heard as a kid and that I have heard said to kids today. The flip side of these beliefs is the misconception that adolescents cannot develop substance-use disorders.

More than medicine needed to address opioid epidemic

By Kae Livsey • Guest Columnist

In the U.S., there is a common perception that there is a pill to fix everything. We are flooded with advertisements promoting pharmacological management for all kinds of conditions. There are even drugs that have been developed to counteract the side effects of other drugs, such as a pill to counteract constipation resulting from use of legally prescribed opioids. Substance use disorders may result from legally prescribed opiates, or from when people resort to opioid-based drugs as a way to self-medicate for chronic pain or mental illness that may be undiagnosed, or untreated, due to lack of access to treatment and support.

Western Carolina University event ‘walks the walk’ on opioid crisis

It’s been said time and time again after forums, panels and public meetings held in communities across the country over the past dozen-odd years: if we could talk our way out of the nation’s opioid crisis, it would have been over a decade ago. 

To reduce overdose deaths, start in the local jail

By Albert M. Kopak • Guest Columnist

You may have a story about Peter, while someone down the road has a similar story about Rose. Mine starts with George, my cousin who died at the age of 38 from an opioid-related overdose.

Such a tragic event will make anyone with a heart pause and reflect, but this is a special case. I am a criminologist who studies drug use in the criminal justice system, and I have thought long and hard about how George’s experience reflects our failure to implement practices designed to reduce crime, enhance public safety and strengthen our communities. We have opportunities to do a better job and change these stories.

Funds earmarked for Haywood drug court

A drug court could be established in Haywood County over the next couple of years if the North Carolina General Assembly passes a budget. 

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