Central Alabamians look to be help find solutions to growing opioid problem

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CALHOUN COUNY, Ala. (WIAT) — While leaders across the country look for ways to combat a growing opioid problem, one central Alabama sheriff was among those invited to participate in a teleconference with White House leaders to talk about possible solutions.

Calhoun County Sheriff Matthew Wade was a part of the discussion with other law enforcement leaders from across the country this week.

“I was invitited and didn’t want to miss any opportunity to be able to be a part of maybe a solution or be able to tell what our situation is and maybe spark an idea that might save somebody’s life and that’s what it is about,” Wade said.

Wednesday CBS 42 spoke to Alex Briggs, a man who has been clean for 12 years.

“It wasn’t until around 25 until I found opiates and I could function on opiates,” Briggs said.

Briggs’ early substance abuse eventaully led to heroin.

“Found out heroin was cheaper than buying loritabs and got hooked on Heroin,” Briggs said.

Briggs’ story is like so many others. Even in Calhoun County, Sheriff Wade says smaller communities aren’t immune to the problems.

“In 2018, 336 calls to our 911 center for people overdosing,” Wade continued. “Got a child that plays sports, gets injured, next thing you know they’re hooked on opioids it is a life changing event so it is not like a lot of people are making a concoius decision to say hey i think i am going to try this drug and get addicted to it.”

For Briggs, it shows the importance of parents having early conversations with children.

“Prevention comes before the first use, anything after the first use is reduction or treatment so you have to start early and it needs to be doubled up on transitional years like the year before you go to junior high, the year before you go to high school because that is when you are going to have the biggest peer pressures,” Briggs said.

There are several groups in Central Alabama reaching out to those in need. Briggs has been working with the Freedom from Addiction Coalition. 

A community awareness breakfast is planned for April 4, at Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church. The breakfast begins at 7:30 a.m. and the program starts at 8 a.m. Dr. Thomas Dooley will be the guest speaker.

It is hosted by the mayors from Hoover, Vestavia Hills, Homewood, and Mountain Brook.

Recovery providers will be on hand to speak privately with participants.

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