‘If Only’ screenings cap off Caroline Goes Purple effort
DENTON — Two screenings of “If Only,” a short film about the dangers of prescription drug misuse, are set for 6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 24, at North Caroline High School, and 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, at Colonel Richardson High School.
Intended to start a conversation that leads to the safe use, storage and disposal of prescription drugs to keep them out of the hands of kids, the two screenings are the culmination of Caroline Goes Purple, a month-long push to raise awareness of the opioid abuse epidemic.
The screenings are free and open to the public.
In addition to the 40-minute film viewing, both screenings will feature a conversation with James Wahlberg, who co-wrote and produced the film, and a local parent who lost a child to an opioid overdose. The audience will also have a chance to ask questions.
Local organizations will be on hand to provide information about resources for opioid abuse education, prevention and treatment, as well as grief counselors specializing in the effects of opioid addiction and crisis intervention specialists, in the event someone struggling with addiction wants to reach out for help.
There will also be an ice cream social, to encourage parents and children to immediately talk about what they just learned, and raffle prizes, including an Apple Watch, a Kindle Fire and gift cards.
Caroline County Sheriff Randy Bounds emphasized the importance of encouraging families to talk directly about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.
“I say it time and time again — we are not going to arrest our way out of this problem,” Bounds said. “We have to do whatever we can, as parents, as a community, to prevent this next generation of kids from starting down this path.”
One of the main goals of the screenings, and of Caroline Goes Purple in general, is to reduce the stigma associated with substance use disorders.
Caroline County Health Officer Scott LeRoy said the solution can seem so simple from the outside — just don’t do drugs.
“But it isn’t that simple,” LeRoy said. “No one takes their first pill intending to end up addicted, whether it is legitimately prescribed to them or taken recreationally. But it happens and often far too quickly for people to stop it.
“Stigma and judgment are dangerous because they keep people from asking for help, they keep families suffering alone in silence without support or resources, and they don’t help us tackle the problem,” LeRoy said.
Amy Kreiner, executive director of the Caroline County Chamber of Commerce and the parent of a high school student, said she plans to attend one of the screenings with her child.
“I look at all the changes and challenges he’s going to face during his teen years, and it’s scary,” Kreiner said. “We are going to this event because, as a mom, I want to do everything I can to protect my kids and have all the tools in my toolbox that I can. I feel like if we don’t think it can happen to us, we’ve already lost the battle.”
Caroline County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Patricia Saelens encouraged everyone to attend one of the screenings.
“We recognize the opioid epidemic continues to negatively impact our families,” Saelens said. “Our goal with these events is to give families the tools to begin this important conversation with their children.”
For more information about the film, including a trailer, visit www.IfOnly Movie.org.