Last year, 308 people in Delaware lost their lives due to a drug overdose. As of February, there had been 24 overdose deaths already in 2018.
To help bring attention to the epidemic that has swept the nation and affected Delaware greatly, the Lord Baltimore Lions Club decided to host its Drug Use Disorder Awareness Panel Discussion, which will be held on Monday, March 12, at the Indian River High School auditorium, beginning at 6:30 p.m.
“It’s a big, big problem. It’s a generational problem,” said Lion Paul Bolton, who is on the club’s board. “What I’ve been trying to get our club and other clubs in Delaware — 35, soon to be 36 — to do is to change their focus a little bit. We do eye screenings, we build ramps, we help Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts — there are a lot of organizations we make contributions to — and I have been trying for six months or so to try to get the clubs to change.”
Community members are being encouraged to attend the discussion and hear from a variety of speakers, who will include Selbyville Middle School Principal Jason Macrides, state Rep. Ron Gray. state Sen. Gerald Hocker, Sussex County Attack Addiction Co-Chairs Pauline Powell and Stacy Robinson, Ocean View Police Chief Ken McLaughlin, Delaware State Police Cpl./2 Juantia Huey and Bureau Chief of Community Corrections Jim Elder. Those who attend will also hear from Lion Kaila Prince, who will discuss her personal experience with addiction and recovery.
“She approached me at one of our cabinet meetings, and she asked to tell her story… She had jail sentence — that’s where she got her treatment,” said Bolton. “In her program, she had three counseling sessions a day. That’s what’s needed… It’s got to be long-term. That seems to be the only types of rehab that take…”
“Ken McLaughlin was an easy choice,” Bolton noted. “I’ve heard him speak before. I’m a big fan of his. He’s a real progressive police leader.”
Those who attend will also receive informational handouts, and other materials will be available to help to communicate more confidently with their children.
Having open discussions about the issue that is plaguing the nation is a first step in solving the growing problem, Bolton said.
“The more we talk about it, the more we communicate with the kids and with ourselves, I think the better it will be.”
Bolton, who has been a Lions Club member for roughly 17 years, is a retired U.S. Park Police lieutenant and said he is, sadly, familiar with addiction.
“I’ve had the background in dealing with drugs and alcoholism and all that, from the job,” he said. “Everybody’s got a relative or know someone who has problems.”
Bolton said the club has started affiliating with Attack Addiction, a non-profit organization working to “spread the word about addiction by educating students, and the community, assisting families in their quest for information, and supporting those in recovery,” and has even offered financial support.
“We’ve attended some of their board meetings and some of their rallies,” he added. “We also supported a recovery house they had for females. We provided some of the things on their list — sheets, pillowcases, toasters, things like that.
“Just recently, we started working with Delaware Teen Challenge, which is a religion-based organization. We toured their new facility in Bridgeville that’s supposed to open this spring. We’ve donated financially to them, and we’re looking at some additional donations to help with things they need in setting up their facility.”
Addiction is a community disease, emphasized Bolton, and the entire community needs to work together to fight it.
“Addiction is a family event — if one person is affected, the whole family is affected,” he said. “Petty crime has gone up in the area. People need to lock their sheds now and keep their cars locked, because people will come by in the middle of the night and go through your car looking for anything of value.”
Bolton said the March 12 panel discussion is just the beginning of what the club plans to do in the community regarding the epidemic, and he hopes others will join the fight.
“I’m hoping that some of the other clubs and service organizations will pick up on the idea, because I really do think that these types of events where people get the chance to listen to the experts, ask questions and take materials with them” are important, he said. “This was just a genuine concern for the state and the state of the nation. It is an epidemic; everyone is being affected.”
Indian River High School is located at 29772 Armory Road in Dagsboro.