While policymakers are working to change the laws around opioid prescriptions, local communities are working to educate parents about how to talk to their children.
We head to the Bryson City library where a nonprofit is trying to educate parents about drugs.
Kaye McConnell of Renew Bryson City is taking parents around a bedroom she has set up in the auditorium of the Marianna Black Library.
“So do you like the vase?” asks McConnell. “It’s a pretty bong.”
The nonprofit works to educate the community about substance abuse and recovery.
“What we’re doing today is called ‘Hidden In Plain Sight.’ I’ve hidden drugs all around the room not real drugs imitation drugs tic tacs and basil for marijuana and so forth,” says McConnell.
Julia Bradley is a foster parent in the Birdtown community. She was caught off guard by the objects that could be used as hiding spots.
“The tennis ball surprised me,” says Bradley.
Bradley has been a foster parent for two years. She also has a teenage daughter. Her brother is in jail in part because of his addiction.
“So I’m raising his children and one day he’s getting them back but it’s a really long process that people really don’t understand,” says Bradley.
Jennifer Reed is a foster parent in Birdtown as well. She says they aren’t expecting teens to be criminals but she’s worried they might have learned from the homes they were taken from.
“I never thought about the vodka in the water bottle,” says Reed. “I guess was thinking about harder stuff than alcohol.”
From 2006 to 2012 nearly 5 million pain pills were prescribed to Swain County residents, enough for 51 pills per person per year. There are just over 14,000 people in the county. That’s according to new data released by the Washington Post. McConnell advises to talk to children early about addiction, because if a family has a history of addiction, that can increase the genetic disposition for drug abuse.
“When they are 10, 11, 12 sit them down and tell them that they had a grandparent who was an active alcoholic so there is that possibility,” says McConnell.
McConnell explains that the program is not set up to scare parents.
“This is not to go home and check your child’s bedroom and ‘go oh my god, he has pot here we need to punish him,’ or something,” says McConnell. “If you do find something that is an opening to talk to your child.”
Bryson City Police Department were also a part of the event. McConnell says involvement of law enforcement is key to ending the opioid crisis.