The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is hosting a live fireside chat and tele-town hall on Thursday, Aug. 3 from 6 to 7 p.m. during which state health officials will talk with people of all ages about substance abuse and overdose prevention – especially as it applies to teens and young adults in the state.

The state and Guilford County have been highly active in recent months when it comes to battling drug problems among the state and county’s population given the raging opioid epidemic in the country and the new available money from a lawsuit settlement against drug makers and distributers.

According to NCDHHS, “Substance use disorders and the overdose crisis affect families and communities across North Carolina, with more than 41,000 youth between the ages of 12 and 17 navigating a substance use disorder in the past year. The majority of adults with a substance use disorder start to use during their teen and young adult years. It is essential to educate youth about substance use and overdose prevention as we work to provide mental health, crisis and treatment services to young people in need.”

That’s just a few of the reasons the August 3 event is focusing on teen and young adult drug users.

The fireside chat and tele-town hall panelists will discuss the following:

  • Ways for parents and caregivers to talk to youth about mental health, substance use and overdose
  • Signs of substance use and where to find support and tools to reduce harm and treatment
  • How to recognize symptoms of an overdose and respond
  • The resources now available to increase access to health services and address disparities.

According to state officials the mental strain and isolation that came with the  COVID-19 pandemic restrictions has “deeply impacted many people’s mental health.”

According to stats from the department, overdose deaths in North Carolina increased 22 percent in 2021 – and teen overdose deaths across the country increased by 20 percent.

The fireside chat will stream live from the NCDHHS Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts – where viewers will be allowed submit questions. The event also includes a tele-town hall that invites people to listen in by phone and submit questions. Anyone can also dial into the event by calling (855) 756-7520 Ext. 95262#.

Event participants include Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Use Services, Kelly Crosbie, UNC Chapel Hill Clinical Director of Substance Use Disorders at MAHEC and Professor of Family Medicine Dr. Blake Fagan and NC Partnership for Success, Addiction Professionals of North Carolina Coordinator Elizabeth Montgomery.