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Partnership for a Drug-Free Community announce program for people with substance abuse problems to find help

Area law enforcement representatives spoke Tuesday in favor of the new program by the Partnership for a Drug-Free Community, including Huntsville Police Chief Mark McMurray, Madison County Sheriff Kevin Turner and Madison Police Major John Stringer. CONTRIBUTED

HUNTSVILLE – Partnership for a Drug-Free Community will make it easier for people with substance abuse issues to find help through a new program announced Tuesday.

Partnership’s Recovery Resource Hub starts on Feb. 3. The program will provide an impartial one-stop shop where people with substance abuse issues can talk to a State Certified Peer Recovery Support Specialist and receive an assessment to determine the level of care needed. Treatment options will be based on that assessment.

Along with HEMSI, Madison County Sheriff’s Department, Huntsville and Madison Police Departments, Alabama Department of Public Health, Redstone Arsenal, private providers, Huntsville Housing Authority, the Cities of Huntsville and Madison, and Madison County representatives, the Partnership for a Drug Free Community say they are ready to meet the needs of those suffering addiction and their families when they decide the time is right.

Wendy Reeves, Partnership’s interim executive director, said the goals include:

  • Helping people find the treatment they need for substance abuse disorder so they can lead a healthier life,
  • Reducing the number of overdoses and deaths in the community,
  • Impacting the economy in a positive way because people are employed while in recovery.

Overdose-related deaths may be on the rise locally, according to Madison County Coroner Tyler Berryhill. There were 82 potential overdose deaths in 2019. Of those, 49 deaths were confirmed to be overdoses. The remaining 33 suspected drug toxicity cases are pending toxicology tests, Berryhill said.

There were 61 overdose deaths in 2016 compared to 73 in 2017 and 72 in 2018.

“People need help getting to the resources available to help them,” Reeves said. “During our annual forums on drug abuse, we heard parents talk about the struggles they faced trying to help their young adult children deal with substance abuse disease, only to see their children die. Their stories just broke our hearts.

“Partnership has been the community’s leader in drug abuse prevention and education for 31 years,” she said,” so we knew we had to do something about this. Throughout 2019, we researched and worked on this program and came up with this plan with the help of a lot of advisors.”

Along with assisting people into treatment, the Hub will also be an information resource for families and friends trying to handle the stresses that come with having a loved one who is addicted.

Funding for the new program has been provided by the Jane K. Lowe Foundation, City of Huntsville, the Huntsville Housing Authority, Colsa Corporation, Damson Automotive Group, State Sen. Arthur Orr, and State Reps. Laura Hall, Rex Reynolds and Howard Sanderford. Partnership is still seeking funding to support the program.

The Recovery Resource Hub will utilize a statewide helpline, paid for by the Alabama Department of Mental Health and federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The Helpline is staffed by the Recovery Organization of Support Specialists (ROSS). The Helpline can be reached at 1-844-307-1760, and is available 24/7. Partnership’s office can be reached at 256-539-7339, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. All calls are confidential. No drug test is required.

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