Group hopes to aid recovering addicts

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By Phyllis McLaughlin

Attendance was impressive as a group of concerned citizens held a second meeting Wednesday, Aug. 28, at Point Park in Carrollton to discuss ways to help recovering drug addicts and their families find much-needed support here in Carroll County.

Hope Against Dope co-organizers Jeremy Tharp and Jessica Herrell held a meeting at the park shelter house the previous week, during which many people affected by drugs and alcohol addiction spoke about the need for more resources in the community.

To the 50-plus people gathered Wednesday night, Herrell said the group is serious about “putting our words into action. We are working for a common cause, common goals.”

Discussion centered on establishing a Naranon group, a support group for the families of active or recovering narcotics addicts – the same way Alanon provides support for families of active or recovering alcoholics.

Another goal is to establish a hot line for people dealing with addiction – a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week resource where people can turn for help in times of crisis.

The group also wants to work with county jailer Mike Humphrey to add more recovery programs to inmates being housed in the Carroll County Detention Center and to provide counseling about programs in place to help them when they are released.

One hurdle, organizers said, was finding a location where Naranon meetings and other services could be located.

Ernest “Junior” Welch told the group they could use the old Presbyterian Church on Highland Avenue at Court Street free of charge, if group members were willing to clean it up inside. The building, which most recently housed the HispanicBaptist Church, has been empty for several years. If that location wouldn’t work, Welch said the group also could use space at his auction house in Prestonville on any night except Saturday, when auctions are held.

Hayley Franklin, coordinator of Champions for a Drug Free Carroll County, said her organization could be a great resource for the group.

“I feel like our organization can help all of you,” she said. Established in 2006, Champions is a nonprofit group funded by a federal Drug Free Communities grant and includes a board comprised of members involved in the community in a variety of ways.

Some in attendance said they believed Champions just focused on children and programs in the schools. But Franklin, who also serves on Carrollton City Council, said Champions also hosts many drug-information forums and other events throughout the year targeting adults to help promote prevention.

She urged everyone attending the meeting to consider joining Champions. “We do it all,” she said, explaining that Champions does help direct those in need who are seeking treatment and said the group also is responsible for bringing The Brook to Carroll County, an adolescent chemical dependency intensive outpatient program.

Carrollton Mayor Gene McMurry agreed that Champions is a good resource that should be considered by the group, which, otherwise, would have to obtain its own 501(c)3 tax designation as a nonprofit before it could go out and apply for grants. By joining Champions, he said those involved in Hope Against Dope would be able to start applying for grants right away.

“Just know we’re here to help,” Franklin said.

In the meantime, Hope Against Dope has planned a prayer vigil for this week. “Prayer Around the Point” is set for 6 p.m. tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 5, at the park pavilion.

In a news release, group spokesperson Delaine Delehanty asked that church representatives come to this week’s event to help plan a “day of unification prayer to rid the city of drugs.”