Kim James Burke Recovery.jpeg

Kim James (left), executive director for Burke Recovery stands with Burke Arts Council Executive Director Deborah Jones at a past fundraiser for the Meeting Place Mission.

When it comes to combating drug abuse, a local nonprofit in Morganton has been moving ahead full force to put the increasing problem on the decline.

Burke Recovery, a nonprofit substance use treatment and prevention provider, has many different ways to help those who are battling substance abuse and give the community several opportunities to join in on the conversation and take action.

They have increased the number of drop boxes in the community and have distributed 746 personal lockboxes for people to keep their prescription meds in a safe place.

“Each location averaged three to four disposals a year, which doesn’t sound like a lot,” said Kim James, executive director for Burke Recovery … but if you think about it , each shipment contains about 35,000 pills … prescription pills. That is a lot of pills that are being disposed of correctly.”

She says the drop boxes help to get unused prescription pills out of the hands of children.

There are unsafe games involving prescription pills that have been around for many years that adolescents still take part in that could prove to be deadly.

In the past year, Burke Recovery has started giving presentations in the public school system in Burke County called “Wasted , ” where they go to different high schools once a semester and talk with students.

“We went and talked with a class of high school students and I am thinking , ‘O kay Burke County , this (the prescription pill game) probably hasn’t reached here yet because it is more of a big city thing, ’ ” James said.

She was proved wrong when a student spoke up and said they recently went to a party where prescription pill games were played.

“If you do not get real with these kids they are not going to hear you,” she said. “If we are not real with these kids the problem isn’t real to them.”

She said they have had to change how they teach their prevention education to kids to better reach the current generation.

“It used to be about teaching the effects on the body and this is what (the drug) is made of and this what your brain looks like and how it affects your brain,” James said. “We talk about what is in a vape, the effects of heroine, and show a slide of opiates and say this is what oxycontin and fentanyl do .”

Student receive a lot of education about drugs, but James and those at Burke Recovery did not want parents to be forgotten about either, so they started another new program for parents called Age Matters.

“That is all about how age matters because if your child uses between now and 25 or 27 then that brain damage is real,” she said.

They want the concepts of drinking before 21 as a rite of passage or allowing children to smoke pot because their parents did it when they were younger to be turned around.

“We can’t think that way about our children anymore now that we know all of this information,” James said. “It can’t be a rite of passage because addiction is like flipping on a switch. You have no idea it is going to be flipped. It is a disease that does not discriminate.”

They do the parent program for churches, Parent/Teacher Organizations, and with athletic coaches, she said.

The have also conducted town hall meetings where they talk to the public and receive feedback about what substance use look s like in the community .

“I hear myself talk about it all day long and I hear everybody else talk about it through BSAN (Burke Substance Abuse Network) all the time, but what about people who don’t come to those meetings,” James said. “The people who are out here just living life that this is not their world and to see what they see.”

“Recovery takes a village , and in Burke County, recovery takes us all,” said a press release from the nonprofit. “Everyone has a part to play in creating the solution because everyone, whether they know it or not, is impacted in some way. It takes all of us working together to save lives. The first step simply requires joining the conversation.”

2018 Prevention Highlights

» More than 764 personal lockboxes were distributed in the county

» Seven medication drop boxes are available in the county

» Received the Drug-Free Communities Grant

» Education presentations titled “Wasted” in Burke County Public Schools where approximately 1,500 students have received education and outreach in 2018 and 2019.

» Lock Your Meds Campaign on billboards, pamphlets, rack cards, grocery cart advertisement

» Age Matters Parent Program

» Communities Project with Facing Addiction with NCADD

» Burke Rally for Recovery

» Vocal Lens Photography Contest

Burke Recovery also has created different community programs in collaboration with other organizations including Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, Recovery Court, jail services, BRIDGE Transitional Program and the Burke Neighbors Helping Neighbors.

For more information about how to get involved with the prevention efforts with Burke Recovery or other organization that partner with them, visit www.burkerecovery.com or call 828-433-1221.

Staff Writer Jonelle Bobak can be reached at jbobak@morganton.com or 828-432-8907.

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