Reba Terry, who is assisting with the new substance use awareness program The Bridge, was the guest speaker at Tuesday’s noon meeting of the Bradley County Health Council at Peerless Road …
Reba Terry, who is assisting with the new substance use awareness program The Bridge, was the guest speaker at Tuesday’s noon meeting of the Bradley County Health Council at Peerless Road Church of God.
Terry was the founder of The Caring Place, a community assistance agency, before she stepped down to pursue other interests.
On Tuesday, she discussed her new affiliation and its connection to Steve Wright and Wright Brothers Construction Company on Lauderdale Memorial Highway in Charleston. Wright attended a conference where he learned of the opioid epidemic and the risk to youth in Cleveland, across the nation, and around the world.
The Bridge is attempting to increase awareness of these dangers.
Information provided by Terry shows that 90 percent of additions begin in a person’s teenage years.
Statistics claim 28.1 percent of the population 12 and older with a substance use disorder began use before they were 15 years of age. Another 18.6 percent began between 15 and 17, 7.4 percent first used drugs between 18 and 20, and only 4.3 percent over 21. Ninety percent of addictions start in the teenage years.
One in six teens have used medicine to get high, and 27 percent of teens and 16 percent of parents believe the use of prescription medicines to get high is safer than using street drugs.
These statistics also show heroin is part of a larger substance use problem. It claims heroins users almost always use another drug. Users of alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, and opioid painkillers are more likely to become addicted to heroin.
The Bridge is attempting to increase awareness of the signs and symptoms of drug abuse in adolescents.
Things to watch for include changes in behavior, mood changes, changes in personality, physical changes, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Behavior includes a sudden change in friends, withdrawal from family and friends or self-isolation, a lack of communication and/or avoiding eye contact, stealing, disinterest in activities they previously enjoyed, and missing curfew.
Mood changes include increased irritability, being verbally abusive, threatening to drop out of school or destroying property, and depression, mood instability and/or apathy.
Personality changes may include poor morale, laughing for no apparent reason, low productivity, a lack of self-control and poor interaction with others. Bad grades and/or behavior in the classroom are also signs.
Physical changes can be dramatic. They include bloodshot eyes or widely dilated pupils, sudden weight loss or gain, poor hygiene, frequent nosebleeds, shakes or tremors, and drowsiness or fatigue.
Drug paraphernalia can be weight scales, smoking pipes or bongs, butane torches or cigarette lighters, small porcelain bowls, hypodermic needles, ballons, or vials.
Terry also provided Health Council members with a detailed list of local resources who battle substance abuse. The list includes churches and healthcare organizations throughout Southeast Tennessee.
Local agencies include Tennova Behavioral Health, Hiwassee Mental Health Center, Mental Health Cooperative, Parkridge Valley Hospital Adult and Adolescents, Narcotics Anonymous in Cleveland, The Salvation Army, and Anchor Point Foundation.
Local churches involved include First Baptist, Church of the Harvest, North Cleveland Church of God, and South Cleveland Church of God.
For additional assistance, you can contact Crisis Text Line (741741), Tennessee REDLINE (800-889-9789), Valley Hospital RESPOND (423-499-2300), Crisis Response Team (423-634-8995), National Suicide Prevention Network (800-273-8255), or go online to https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/.
The Bridge is also working with area health care agencies and local school systems.
Other business at Tuesday’s meeting included an update from the anti-tobacco program by Bradley County Health Department Director Eloise Waters and Linda Avila.
Announcements of area events include the health department’s Fall Festival, scheduled from 12:30 to 3 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 13; the start of the health department’s Thriving and Surviving cancer workshop Nov. 6; and a workshop on “The Addicted Brain” from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 24, at Hixson United Methodist Church in Hixson.
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