Caro­line Goes Pur­ple hosts ‘If Only’ screen­ings

Times-Record - - FRONT PAGE - By ABBY AN­DREWS aan­drews@car­o­line­times­record.com

RIDGELY — Caro­line Goes Pur­ple hosted two screen­ings of “If Only,” a short film about the dan­gers of pre­scrip­tion drug abuse, the cap­stone event to a month­long push to raise aware­ness about opi­oid ad­dic­tion.

The screen­ings were held at North Caro­line High School Mon­day, Sept. 24, and at Colonel Richard­son High School Thurs­day, Sept. 27.

In ad­di­tion to the screen­ing, at­ten­dees heard from the film’s pro­ducer, who is both a re­cov­er­ing ad­dict and the par­ent of one, and from a lo­cal wo­man who lost her daugh­ter to an ac­ci­den­tal over­dose.

The event wrapped up with an ice cream so­cial, to give par­ents and kids a chance to talk about what they learned, and a re­source fair, full of in­for­ma­tion on lo­cal preven­tion and treat­ment op­tions.

Ev­ery­thing was free and open to the pub­lic.

Caro­line County Sher­iff Randy Bounds opened the North Caro­line screen­ing by say­ing this year’s first an­nual Caro­line Goes Pur­ple ini­tia­tive aimed to spark a con­ver­sa­tion be­tween par­ents and chil­dren, not only about opi­oid abuse but about a lot of dif­fi­cult top­ics, and to end the stigma that con­trib­utes to con­tin­ued abuse.

“We want to send the mes­sage to those strug­gling with ad­dic­tion that

this com­mu­nity sup­ports re­cov­ery,” Bounds said.

Be­fore show­ing the movie, pro­ducer James Wahlberg, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foun­da­tion, com­mended the large turnout.

“To get par­ents and peo­ple from the com­mu­nity to come out and have this con­ver­sa­tion is a hard thing,” Wahlberg said. “Peo­ple are busy, and they don’t want to talk about this stuff.

“But if we don’t have that con­ver­sa­tion, the num­bers will keep go­ing up,” he said.

Wahlberg shared his own story of start­ing to drink al­co­hol reg­u­larly in sixth grade, while mov­ing from school to school, un­til even­tu­ally he be­came a ward of his home state of Mass­a­chu­setts. By the time he was 17, he was in state prison. It was dur­ing his sec­ond stint in prison, in his early 20s, that he found a pro­gram to help with his ad­dic­tion.

“I found sub­stances at a very early age, and be­came de­pen­dent on them to feel com­fort­able in my own skin,” Wahlberg said.

Wahlberg said opi­oid ad­dic­tion is dif­fer­ent in that it of­ten starts with a le­git­i­mate pre­scrip­tion, for pain med­i­ca­tion, and it does not take long to be­come ad­dicted.

He said he made the movie four years ago to start the con­ver­sa­tion be­tween kids and any­one who has an in­flu­ence on them.

“If you don’t have that con­ver­sa­tion with them, some­one else will, with wrong in­for­ma­tion: ‘Don’t worry about it, it’s no big deal, give it a try,’” Wahlberg said.

Af­ter the screen­ing, Wahlberg in­tro­duced a lo­cal mother, who lost her daugh­ter to an ac­ci­den­tal over­dose in 2012.

Fol­low­ing the mother’s speech was a ques­tion and an­swer ses­sion with Bryan Ebling, di­rec­tor of the Caro­line County Depart­ment of Emer­gency Ser­vices; Katie Dil­ley, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Mid Shore Be­hav­ioral Health; and Tr­ish Todd, pro­gram man­ager for Mary­land Coali­tion of Fam­i­lies.

Ebling said there have been 52 over­doses in Caro­line County in 2018, and seven sus­pected deaths, pend­ing au­topsy re­sults.

Nar­can, a nasal spray that can re­verse an opi­oid over­dose, has been ad­min­is­tered 79 times in the county this year, Ebling said. Of those doses, 60 were ad­min­is­tered by an emer­gency med­i­cal ser­vices worker, 15 by a law en­force­ment of­fi­cer, two by a health care provider and two by a lay per­son.

Dil­ley en­cour­aged ev­ery­one to take ad­van­tage of the free Nar­can train­ing of­fered there that night, and to carry it with them.

Caro­line County Pub­lic Schools Su­per­in­ten­dent Dr. Pa­tri­cia Sae­lens wrapped up that part of the event by say­ing the Caro­line Goes Pur­ple ini­tia­tive is just the be­gin­ning of what the com­mu­nity needs to com­bat opi­oid ad­dic­tion.

“I chal­lenge ev­ery­one here to spread the word,” Sae­lens said. “If you know an ad­dict, in­spire them to get help. If you know some­one in re­cov­ery, en­cour­age them.

“We can have a pow­er­ful im­pact on our kids and our com­mu­nity,” she said.

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