UNA hosts town hall to discuss opioid crisis

UNA is hosting a town hall meeting Sept. 27 to raise awareness for the opioid addiction crisis in Alabama.

Officials hope the meeting will foster discussions about recovery and solutions to the problem, according to a UNA press release.

“UNA is excited to host this important event on our campus,” said Joy Borah, associate vice president of academic affairs.

This event will take place in Norton Auditorium at 4 p.m. State Representative Johnny Mack Morrow partnered with UNA to host the meeting.

Sophomore Charles Lieb said he knows how much of a problem opioid addiction is because he has a family member suffering from this. He said this is a topic which does not receive enough attention.

“It is an important event to discuss, but it doesn’t really have the right amount of publicity,” Lieb said. “If they are going to discuss something this important, they need to make sure everyone is aware of the event and how big of a deal it is.”

This event follows an executive order Governor Kay Ivey signed Aug. 8 to create an Alabama Opioid Overdose and Addiction Council. This is in response to the drug-overdose epidemic. Alabama recently saw an increase in the overdose-death rate, according to a UNA Press Release.

The state of Alabama estimates nearly 30,000 Alabamians over the age of 17 are addicted to prescription painkillers, according to the press release.

Senior Ben Schoenbachler said this is an issue people should be concerned about because it is a prevalent drug.

“I definitely think the university should tackle this issue, especially if students at UNA struggle with this,” Schoenbachler said.

The event will consist of a panel made of State Attorney General Steve Marshall, Lynn Beshear, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Mental Health and Acting State Health Officer Scott Harris.

The panel will also include State Senator Tim Melson, Bryan Libell, CEO of Riverbend Center for Mental Health and Quinn Pearson, chair of UNA’s counselor education department.

UNA President Kenneth Kitts will begin the event with an opening speech.

The event is free to the public. UNA encourages students, faculty, staff and members of the community to attend.