Serving Denton, NC & Surrounding Communities

Viewpoint

Clerk tackles heroin epidemic in Davidson County
Acknowledging the problem in Davidson County, Davidson County Clerk of Superior Court Brian L Shipwash is spearheading an effort in hopes of reducing heroin deaths in Davidson County. Ready to make a difference, Shipwash is announcing today the launch of the countywide initiative, the Clerk’s Commission on Opiate Abuse. By beginning the discussion, Shipwash’s main goal is to reduce heroin and other opiate-based deaths.

“I do not see our leaders who are in charge of addressing the issue of heroin, meth, and opiate abuse placing a priority on or bringing the proper public attention to this issue,” said Shipwash, who has served Davidson County as the Clerk of Superior Court since 1998. “Someone must pick up and carry the flag. I am announcing that I am going to begin the discussion and action by forming the clerk’s commission on opiate abuse.”

The goal of the group will be to attack opiate abuse through four fronts – law enforcement/judicial, treatment/mental health, education/prevention and legislative. Shipwash has already started the process of contacting key stakeholders and the efforts of getting countywide buy-in will continue through the upcoming weeks.

“It is my goal that the commission will be made up of leaders in law enforcement, health care, education, DSS, treatment providers, those currently battling addiction, the faith community, the judicial system, the legislature, the legal community and members of the general public who care about this issue,” said Shipwash, who wishes to be a staunch advocate against the battle of opiate-based deaths. “I ask you for your prayers and support as we begin this journey for our county.”

Any death from drug overdose is unacceptable but with the increase of deaths in the last two years, we have to admit there is a serious problem, Shipwash said. North Carolina has higher than average overdose death rates, according to the website, projectlazarus.org. Nearly all of these deaths involve prescription opioid pain relievers, like methadone or morphine, the website stated.
As a byproduct of the commission, Shipwash has plans – if necessary – of producing legislation that will help others in this battle and save lives. If we can get a bill sponsored I will be respectfully asking for it to be titled, “Tristan’s Law.” Tristan Lee Thompson, a graduate of the Davidson County Early College, was 18 years old when she died from a heroin overdose. Her death and others have caused Shipwash to take the lead in this endeavor. The Clerk of Superior Court is personally meeting with individuals who are struggling with addiction to better understand how to better serve those who need help.

Shipwash said there have been meetings, task forces and other functions about opiate addiction across United States since 2001. Determined to make an impact, the Clerk of Superior Court is putting together a concentrated effort to have community interest meetings, which will allow people to choose what specific area they would like to participate in: Law Enforcement and Community Watch, Treatment and Recovery/Health care and Education/Awareness/Prevention. The first meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sept. 1 at the Davidson County Courthouse Annex in Thomasville. The next meeting will be 6 p.m. Sept. 8 at the Davidson County Courthouse in Lexington, Courtroom C.

After the interest meetings, the subgroups will then lead efforts to look at a collection of recommendations from various interest groups from across the United States. These groups will review recommendations that fit the needs of Davidson County to customize short term and long-term approaches to addressing the various issues. “Then the three groups will come together to look at needed legislation reform to introduce the all-inclusive bill named ‘Tristan’s Law,’” Shipwash said. “I need people to lead these subgroups and I need input and energy from anyone moved to do so. Join me and let’s take this epidemic on.”

“Doing heroin is equivalent to playing Russian Roulette with a bullet in the chamber, fentanyl-laced heroin is playing Russian Roulette with 5 bullets in the chamber.  It is coming out of Mexico and High Point primarily.  We have to take a different approach and I am counting on the people and professionals to help me do this.”

view.jpg

view2.jpg