RI CEO and President David Covington featured on New Zealand Zero Suicide News Program

David Covington interviewed by Ryan Bridge about Zero Suicides goal

Is suicide preventable? Or is it inevitable? If somebody’s suffering reaches a no-turning back stage, can they be turned back?

Ryan Bridge speaks to world-renowned Suicide expert David Covington,  who founded the Zero Suicide initiative.

Listen to the interview here:

http://www.radiolive.co.nz/home/audio/2017/07/aiming-for-a-goal-of-zero-suicides.html

Opioid Crisis Hits Wilmington Area Hard; Lack of Public Resources Hinders Response

This is an abridged version of the original article. Click here to read the full article.

North Carolina’s place in the national opioid crisis is nothing new here – and the news that Wilmington is the top city in the nation for opioid abuse doesn’t surprise people.

These days, from well-to-do Market Street lined with live elms to the dilapidated and garbage strewn Houston Moore and Hillcrest housing projects, addiction is uniting the city. Acknowledging that has been a long time coming.

Joe Stanley Wellness City

Joe Stanley has been clean for 13 years and now helps others at Wellness City. (Photo: Joe Killian)

“There’s been a bad drug problem here for a lot of years,” says Joe Stanley. “But people are just beginning to really pay attention to it because you’re seeing that other demographic affected – middle class white people, rich people, people who are into prescribed pills and don’t start out with heroin. Now they’re seeing it can happen to anybody. Addiction can come for anyone.”

Stanley knows. He’s been clean for 13 years and now works as a peer support specialist, helping other addicts at the Wellness City recovery center on South 17th Street. But he spent decades abusing drugs – mostly crack – in Wilmington.

Most people working with addicts here agree – when the bodies were mostly black and being found in flop houses or behind gas stations, there was a lot less attention to the epidemic. But in the decade between 2005 and 2015 opioid-related deaths jumped from 26 to 45 in New Hanover County. That’s nearly as many as in Guilford County, whose population is more than twice as large.

But New Hanover County is 81 percent white. Its median income is just over $50,000 a year – higher than much larger Guilford. So not all of those struggling with and dying from addiction are, as so many people here say carefully, “who you’d think.”

Kris Ludacher, director of the Wellness City.

Kris Ludacher, director of the Wellness City. (Photo: Joe Killian)

Kris Ludacher is the director of the Wellness City – a no-cost, peer-support recovery operation that opened just last year. The group held 125 sessions – they don’t like to call them “classes” – last month for people struggling with addiction, mental health problems and both.

But before he was running the Wellness City, he spent eight years with a mobile crisis unit here. Even eight years ago about two-thirds of the calls were for substance abuse – and the number of opioid overdose calls were on the climb. Ludacher said he noticed a related trend.

“It used to be that you’d get an overdose call and it would be in a Chick-fil-A bathroom,” Ludacher said. “But then you started getting those calls and they were at half-million dollar yachts.”

Government services in New Hanover County are doing their best to combat the epidemic – but the need is great and the resources sorely lacking.

The county recently produced a series of public service announcement videos on various angles of the epidemic. But the piece of the story that is often overlooked is the impact on the families and children of those struggling with addiction here.

Mary Beth Rubright is Child Protective Services Chief with the Department of Social Services in New Hanover County. Her department has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic here, experiencing a 93 percent increase in the number of children who need foster homes in the four-year period between 2012 and 2016.

Add to that the sharp spike in child deaths related to opioid addicted parents –  in car crashes, parents who roll over on children who sleep with them, severe neglect and suicide.

“The numbers are scary,” Rubright said.

There are now nearly 500 children in foster care in New Hanover, a number approaching that of some of the state’s largest counties.

Medicaid expansion would be a godsend to some people trying to get on and stay on a real recovery path, Davis said. That’s a call many lawmakers in Raleigh have been sounding for years, but the GOP majority is not yet on board.

In the meantime, those on the ground agree a serious commitment of resources to combat the epidemic is needed.

Wanda Marino, assistant director for Social Work Services in New Hanover, said the first step is acknowledging the problem – something New Hanover is doing, but many communities are not.

“And we need more resources, more staff who receive substance abuse training, more resources to hold on to good staff so that we aren’t having to replace them and they aren’t chasing their tails,” Marino said. “We have a great staff here. They work hard and they are trained. But we just need more of them. I think that’s the case in a lot of places.”

Read the Full Article Here

Trillium Aims To Provide Health Services

Kris Ludacer Wilmington Program Director

Kris Ludacer is program director of Wilmington Wellness City, a partnership between Trillium Health Resources and RI International that is fully funded by Trillium and housed at 1960 S. 17th St. (Photo by Chris Brehmer)

Wilmington Wellness City, a partnership between Trillium and RI International that is fully funded by Trillium, celebrated a grand opening in January at 1960 S. 17th St. in Wilmington, a much larger location from the previous one-room space the program operated out of at The Harrelson Center downtown.

Getting more people who are recovering from addiction or mental illnesses to use the service means getting the word out about Wilmington’s location, said Kris Ludacer, program director of Wilmington Wellness City.

That also means “having people stop by to see the facility and just kind of take a tour. One of the things I think people aren’t realizing is we don’t infringe on anyone else’s services. We are an additional support, and we’re free to anybody over the age of 18. It doesn’t matter what insurance you have; it doesn’t matter what level of service you’re getting from another provider,” Ludacer said.

Potential funding cuts from the state could affect Wellness City locations, including in Wilmington, New Bern and Greenville, officials said.

Ludacer said one of the main impacts could be an overflow of people who need the free help because they can’t pay for other sources, although he said the Wilmington Wellness City would try to accommodate everyone.

Read the Full Article Here

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