‘If Only’ screen­ings cap off Caro­line Goes Pur­ple ef­fort

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

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.

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