By Basil John
Article printed by wwaytv3
Published: Thursday, August 31, 2017
WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A concert to bring awareness to the opioid crisis and give help to those who need it. That was the mission tonight for Heart of Wilmington.
This year, a study ranked Wilmington number one in opioid abuse in the country. Nearly 16,000 people die every year from prescription drug overdose. Today was National Overdose Awareness day, so the group brought the community together for the event.
“It is a public health issue and these folks are telling the community ‘we need to treat it as a public health issue as opposed to a criminal issue,’” Wilmington Mayor, Bill Saffo, said.
The Heart of Wilmington held their “We Are HOW Fest” in Greenfield Lake Amphitheater. Many bands and performances were set to play and dignitaries, like Commissioner Woody White, Carolina Beach mayor Dan Wilcox and Wilmington mayor Bill Saffo, were there to show their support.
“This group is very valuable to us as elected officials to make certain that we’re expending the resources properly, when we do get them and where do we put them and where do we get the biggest bang for the buck in trying to attack it,” Saffo said.
Many local organizations were there to help the community and educate people on Wilmington’s mission of recovery and community unity when it comes to the opioid crisis.
“This is a medical disorder and it’s important to educate people about that because people who are seeking services, do not receive the compassion that they need. It is like any other medical disorder and deserves to be treated so,” Jessamyn Angelastro, Mobile Crisis Unit supervisor, said.
Castlight Health ranks Wilmington as the worst city in America for opioid abuse with nearly 12 percent of the port city’s population that receives prescription painkillers abusing the drugs.
“If individuals aren’t able to get help, then we are failing them as a society, we are failing them as the city of Wilmington. If they aren’t able to gain access to the life saving services that many of our service providers provide to these individuals who need the care, we will lose heart and we will lose hope,” Robert Childs, North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition executive director, said.
Governor Cooper declared the month of September 2017 as Alcohol and Drug addiction recovery month in North Carolina, showcasing his support to help those recovering.