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A.C.T.I.O.N Coalition And Families Free Recovery Services Receive Federal Funding

Tabitha Edwards Recovery and Family Services Coordinator, Families Free. Photo submitted

Funding awarded for substance use disorder treatment and recovery for Johnson County

Submitted by A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition

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Amid growing concerns over increases in overdose, the A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition and partner organization Families Free has been awarded a federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to provide even further assistance to residents of Carter and Johnson County for treatment of Substance Use Disorder commonly known as ‘drug addiction.’

“We don’t like to use that terminology as it creates an additional stigma around an already stigmatized disorder, but it is what people are familiar with,” said ACTION executive director Trish Burchette. “Bridging the G.A.P. (Growing Achievable Pathways) to recovery, a 3-year $550,000 project, will allow for expansion of options in Carter and Johnson County in ways our community has never seen. We are working hard to provide assistance to those in our community who want help and to allow a safe, non-judgmental way for them to reach out. The vision of ACTION is to unite our community toward a drug-free Johnson County. We need to let those who suffer from SUD know that they are not alone and there is hope and help for healing available to them, along with the shared vision of Families Free of strengthening our community by building the capacity of vulnerable families through education, intervention, and restoring relationships.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just last week reported that in 2020, the United States saw a 29.4% increase in drug overdose deaths, the highest number ever recorded at 93,331. The provisional data will be finalized later this year compared to 2019’s 72,151 deaths projected. These newly released provisional fatal overdose data, coupled with the known disruption to public health, healthcare, and social services as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and related mitigation measures, highlight the need for essential services to remain accessible for those most at risk of overdose and the need to expand prevention and response activities.

“We are thankful that through the coordinated efforts of ACTION and Families Free “Bridging the G.A.P. to recovery,” many in our community who have not had access to treatment and recovery resources will finally be able to get the assistance they need to live in long term recovery,” Burchette said. “Being a Carter County native, I am intimately familiar with the need for substance use support and services in our rural counties in East Tennessee.

We are honored to continue to expand treatment options to the citizens of Johnson County. We will be intentional about our love and support for people choosing to restore their lives. We seek to build connections with individuals, their families, and their community.Each individual choosing to pursue recovery from substance use disorder begins to change the future of their families and their community. We believe in individual redemption and are excited to see the strength and power in individuals in Johnson County develop, as their lives are restored after the ravaging of substance use disorder,” said Tabitha Edwards Recovery and Family Services Coordinator, Families Free.

The increase in overdose deaths highlights the need for essential services to remain accessible for people most at risk of overdose and the need to expand prevention and response activities. C.D.C. issued a health advisory to medical and public health professionals, first responders, harm reduction organizations, and other community partners recommending the following actions as appropriate based on local needs and characteristics:

• Expand distribution and use of naloxone and overdose prevention education.

• Expand awareness about and access to and availability of treatment for substance use disorders.

• Intervene early with individuals at highest risk for overdose.

• Improve detection of overdose outbreaks to facilitate a more effective response.

ACTION and Families Free is at the forefront of these actions as directed by the C.D.C. Through a joint effort with our Regional Overdose Prevention Specialist, Sherry Barnett, and a partnership with Johnson County Community hospital, monthly naloxone training and free kits will be provided at Ballad Health. You can also contact the ACTION office at any time to receive a free kit and training.

ACTION will begin our bimonthly Community ACTION meetings to expand awareness again on Tuesday, August 17, with Brian Winbigler from the University of Tennessee presenting information on The Science of Addiction. If you have ever wondered why addiction seems to hit some and not others, this presentation will explain much of the science of addiction in our brains. These meetings are held at the First Christian Church Community Life Center and will begin with dinner at 5:30 p.m. and meet from 6-8 p.m.

We are once again hosting our Prevention Day activities in conjunction with the Joe Barlow Car Show, downtown Mountain City on Friday, August 6. Events like these allow us to provide information to our community about resources available to them. We will also be hosting several training sessions throughout the coming months regarding suicide prevention, mental health, and stress management directed for the youth of our community.

We believe early intervention is the key to breaking the generational cycle of addiction in our community and are excited to partner with many local and regional organizations to continue these efforts into our 16th year of serving Johnson County. Through grant funding provided by the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (T.D.M.H.S.A.S.), we are able to work closely with our school system, sheriff’s department, local faith community, healthcare, and so many others to provide resources and education for the youth of our county.

“ACTION Coalition believes that our county and our youth are strong and resilient. We believe in the youth of our community and their future. There are many positive influences at work in our area, and we want to provide every opportunity for the youth of Johnson County to grow and build on their strengths.”

For more information, please contact us at 727-0780 or check out our websites at www.actioncoalition.org and www.familiesfree.com.

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