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FACE-IT: a community approach to addiction

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GUEST EDITORIAL

John Bigger of Fayetteville, N.C. is project director of FACE-IT

If someone told you that 10,000 adults had a treatable disease and that 9,000 were going without treatment, would you be concerned?
That this disease affects 8.25 percent of the county’s adult population, would you be concerned?
This community has a silent epidemic eating away its resources — destroying families, damaging businesses, giving rise to criminal acts, hindering children’s success, taking lives prematurely.
No, it is not cancer, diabetes, or heart disease. The epidemic is addiction.
Based on Department of Health and Human Services estimates, there are many adults in this community with a serious substance abuse problem and only about one percent receive professional services.
According to the 2007-08 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 23.59 percent of Virginia adults ages 18-25 and 7.16 percent ages 26 and older were dependent on, or abused, illicit drugs or alcohol. More than $1 billion in direct and indirect costs resulting from drug and alcohol addiction were tabulated for Virginia in 2006, and of course a price tag cannot be placed on the value of lives damaged and destroyed.
There are too few resources available to help those experiencing problems with alcohol and other drugs. National estimates suggest that nearly 90 percent never seek treatment. And the few who do, encounter problems accessing it due to availability or cost.
Many shy away from treatment because of the stigma, which is supported by a lack of accurate information about addictive disease and recovery. Responding to this crisis cannot be limited to “substance abuse professionals,” nor can it be relegated to “government” to take care of.
For this community to turn the tide, community change agents are needed, the public must become aware and informed, and advocates need to step forward.
Knowledge is power. Emerging science, based on understanding addiction and recovery, can shape how we respond.
The Twin County Prevention Coalition and Occupational Enterprises, Inc. invites you to participate in the FACE-IT Academy.
The purpose is to develop a community-wide response to addiction and, through collaboration, to select and accomplish projects that achieve positive impacts for substance abuse awareness and recovery.
 The FACE-IT Academy will join together to:
• develop a community-wide response to addiction;
• reduce stigma through accurate information about addiction and recovery;
• seek resources to foster early intervention and engagement in treatment; and 
• advocate allocation of resources for treatment and recovery.
The quality of recovery from any disease is affected by characteristics and qualities of the community where recovery is the goal.
As an academy member you are being asked to step forward and advocate for change and to help build a strong community awareness and commitment to substance abuse recovery.
The coalition and our partners from Duke University are committed to provide information on evidence-based practices to help the academy determine the best approach.
Academy members will have access to nationally recognized experts in addiction treatment and recovery, who are affiliated with Duke University. Experts will share information about addiction and recovery, and practices that provide better outcomes.
Academy members will learn about accessing resources, and will form advocacy groups according to their interests. Those groups will determine what projects to develop. A member is asked to commit to 15 hours of training and then to participate in meetings, typically once a month for 1.5 hours, to review progress and to implement plans.
Applications are due by April 8 to reserve a seat for May 18-20 training sessions at the Galax Public Library’s Vaughan Building.
Commitments to become academy members are being accepted now. Please contact Penny Dean at 238-9700 for an application.