Asheville, NC – Oct. 17, 2017 – It is a staggering statistic – opioid overdosing causes 91 deaths per day in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The epidemic has led the Food and Drug Administration, the state of North Carolina and local officials to create plans to combat the problem. The crisis and what the community can do to address it is the focus of Mountain Area Health Education Center’s (MAHEC) Dr. Blake Fagan’s talk at Warren Wilson College Oct. 25.
“The opioid epidemic is a huge part of the conversation in this country right now,” said Warren Wilson College psychology professor Jen Mozolic, who invited Fagan to speak. “The numbers are astounding and terrifying when you look at the trends in the overdoses. We talk a lot about this crisis in psychology, but it needs to be a broader community discussion.”
Fagan is the chief education director at MAHEC. A question and answer session will follow his talk – “The Opioid Epidemic: Facts, Opportunities and Empowerment.”
Mozolic said Fagen will help bring this national problem home to students.
“MAHEC is a local leader in health education. They are a good resource that students should know exists and, of course, they will have a good view of the local context as well as national issues,” Mozolic said.
As a requirement to graduate, Warren Wilson College students participate in community engagement. The Center for Community Engagement works with undergraduates to help them think deeply about issues and collaborate with others to take action. Each year, the obligation results in more than 55,000 hours of service to the community – mainly in Buncombe County.
The professor realizes this commitment to the community will bring students into contact with people who are dealing with the opioid epidemic firsthand.
“When they are out in the community working with community partners, they are probably encountering issues of substance use. So, they need to understand the context and the approaches for this issue. We have to address the demand for drugs, and that comes from education and prevention as well as treatment. Those are some of the avenues that our students will be directly involved in,” she added.
The College’s Work Program also delves into the conversation through the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention Crew. Under the leadership of Mariel Epstein Olsen, students work throughout the year to bring awareness to the opiate addiction and other issues impacting the world and the community. The crew also works with a local recovery center to explore the psychology of addiction and see what it looks like locally.
Fagen will deliver his 7 p.m. talk at Warren Wilson College in the third-floor lecture hall of the Jensen Humanities and Social Science Building.