ROCKINGHAM — Melissa Schoonover by no means had any intentions of being a drug counselor or an dependancy advocate. A sequence of coronary heart wrenching occasions – her father’s demise, and dropping her son, Chris Schoonover, to an overdose, has propelled her to the forefront of the battle towards opioids in Richmond County.
Schoonover is the founding father of Steve’s Wings, appropriately named after her father, a person she stated, “would do something to assist anybody.”
On Saturday, Steve’s Wings held their third annual overdose consciousness rally and vigil for family and friends who’ve skilled loss on account of opioids.
“Steve’s Wings does something to assist anyone, we strive to not put limitations on what we do, however we focus on drug consciousness and prevention,” Schoonover stated. For her, the epidemic besieging Richmond County is private.
Following the demise of her father, Schoonover stated, “I misplaced myself and actually the one motive I began this was as a result of I felt like god was pulling me to do one thing to assist folks, and I felt prefer it was one thing huge, however I didn’t know what.”
She continued, “I used to be actually at dwelling studying my bible, in search of a special scripture, and I heard this voice that — positively knew what it was, telling me that I must develop into a drug counselor, which is what my daddy all the time advised me after which positive sufficient.”
In response to Schoonover, Steve’s Wings is at the moment within the technique of procuring 501(c)(3) non-profit standing from the interior income service.
For Schoonover, although, the battle isn’t essentially about cash and donations. “It’s simply understanding and backing it up – consciousness. I’ve misplaced, and lots of households on this county misplaced,” she stated. She implores Richmond County Residents to vary their perspective on addicts and dependancy. “If you see an addict on the road, don’t stick your nostril up at them, they’re folks too,” she stated.
Wrapping Melissa and the county in help, a number of organizations concerned with dependancy and therapy have been in attendance.
Dr. Tammie Gainey, and her husband — county commissioner and pastor, Jason Gainey — began Sandhills Greatest Care six years in the past. Whereas the power additionally does major care, the Gainey’s are extraordinarily invested within the battle towards the opioid epidemic.
Come December, Dr. Gainey and Sandhills Greatest Care would be the solely group in Richmond County offering remedy assisted therapy (MAT) for opioid dependency. Whereas there are a litany of opinions on MAT utilization, council member Gainey says that steadily, MAT is usually the quickest method to get sufferers again to dwelling regular lives.
Dr. Gainey stated that for MAT remedy to achieve success, “it must be coupled with peer help and remedy, as a result of there are way of life adjustments that need to occur, you realize, the medication could assist with cravings, but it surely doesn’t handle every thing.”
On abstinence based mostly therapy modalities, council member Gainey stated that abstinence from all substances is the last word purpose. “We’re like Jesus, if they’re for us, they aren’t towards us, so they’re making an attempt to resolve the issue too,” he stated.
Dr. Gainey stated that the majority importantly, Richmond County wants extra providers. She stated there’s a large want for intensive outpatient providers that can serve the county as a form of step down for sufferers leaving inpatient therapy amenities.
Additionally carrying the torch towards opioid dependency, Heather Rodriguez, licensed agent, and proprietor of Rodriguez Insurance coverage Options, attended the rally.
Rodriguez does lots of advocacy work for sufferers with dependancy points. She needs Richmond County residents coping with dependency to know, “the plans that I provide, a number of the Obamacare plans which have like zero greenback premiums, zero greenback deductibles, they cowl opioid inpatient and outpatient therapy.” She went on to say, “It’s nearly getting folks insured and getting folks to have the ability to search therapy.”
Bruce D. Almon runs Get Clear and Get better Ministry. A recovering addict and alcoholic with 23 years of sobriety, he presides over a 12-step oriented restoration help group.
“It’s all about saving lives, making an attempt to assist folks get clear and sober, like me,” Almon stated. In response to Almon his providers are firmly rooted within the teachings of Jesus Christ, and should not only for addicts, however folks with any form of life management issues.
The Richmond County Volunteer Rescue Squad offered tutorials for the group on the right way to fight energetic overdose.
“It’s all about respiratory drive,” Captain Colt West stated. “CPR is necessary however getting that respiratory drive again up is vital – extra breaths are wanted. Usually, on overdose deaths, most sufferers are overdosed on opioids and that doesn’t cease the guts. The physique mainly forgets to breathe. What they want is oxygen,” West continued.
West and his crew illustrated a boots on the bottom perspective of what it’s like combating for overdose victims in Richmond County. “It’s an epidemic, it’s rampant round right here,” West stated.
Commissioner Jason Gainey beckoned the group in attendance nearer with a heartfelt invocation and introduction to members of the group affected by opioids.
Standing in entrance of a banner depicting family members who misplaced their lives to overdose, Gainey stated, “I wish to step apart for a minute and I would like you to check out the banner behind me, that is much more necessary than who I’m or who I characterize. These are our pals and family members and members of the family which were affected by medicine.”
Gainey, alluding to these gathered to battle the opioid epidemic, cited Ecclesiastes. “One could be overtaken, two can stand up to an enemy, and three or extra, collectively, can’t be simply overthrown.”
“We could be down, however we aren’t out. We could also be wounded, however this isn’t over, actually this has simply acquired us a little bit indignant, and we wish to transfer ahead,” Gainey stated in closing.
Beth Taylor runs the meals pantry on the Place of Grace Campus and illustrated the realities of the epidemic operating rife all through the county.
Taylor stated that between 2019 and 2021, she attended 14 funerals from overdose deaths.
“Behind they go away kids, mothers, dads, grandmas, grandpas, individuals who wished the most effective for them, and I would like you to grasp one thing else too, nobody wakes up and says, ‘I wish to be a dope addict.’ They don’t – ache and heartache and damage from life causes them to achieve for absolutely anything and every thing, and earlier than they realize it, they’ve an issue that’s actually arduous to eliminate.”
She pleaded for compassion and understanding when coping with addicts.
“In case you see that individual strolling down the road, cease and provide them a bottle of water, provide them your hand and provide to wish with them, do no matter you need to do to a minimum of plant that seed,” Taylor stated. She continued, “you don’t need to know folks and also you don’t need to confront them – a bottle of water and a pack of crackers and a prayer could save any person’s life.”
Chloe Jimmerson misplaced her mom April Britton to dependancy. She heals by writing to her mom.
“There’s a bunch of various methods to grieve however I personally grieve writing notes to my mother. I ship them to her previous telephone quantity,” Jimmerson stated. “I miss you a lot mother, you have been my gentle in a darkish room…phrases can’t describe how a lot I miss you; I can’t consider you’re gone. You continue to had so a few years to dwell,” she continued.
Jimmerson closed by articulating how most family members really feel once they lose somebody to dependancy.
“You weren’t prepared, I wasn’t prepared, no person was prepared.”
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Attain Matt Lamb at 910-817-2673 or [email protected] to recommend a correction.