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Thurmont forms Addiction Commission

Danielle Ryan

(1/31) Thurmont recently formed a Drug Commission that is geared toward helping with the opioid and addiction problem Thurmont is facing. Of course, Thurmont is not alone, as many small towns locally, and across the country are struggling with an increase in opioid addiction problems. Thurmont Commissioner Martin Burns decided it was time to form an official commission that would help combat this issue.

The idea of forming a commission of this kind came after Burns attended an addiction program at Catoctin High School in April, which was followed by a meeting about a week later. During these meetings, Burns noted that he heard and saw individuals who used the loss of their loved ones to establish outreach and programs. As observed, each individual wanted to honor his or her loved one who lost the battle with addiction instead of creating a singular organization to address the problem. With this in mind, Burns moved to create a group that would meet to discuss and work on ideas to help with the opioid crisis.

Burns took this idea back to the Mayor and Board of Commissioners later in April, and in May asked them to establish an Addiction Commission, which would be fully sanctioned by the town. By forming this Commission, the group gained instant "credibility" as a town entity that would allow them to channel ideas, apply for grants, represent the town and its residents and assist other groups. The formation of the Commission was supported 100% by the Mayor and Board of Commissioners.

The first meeting of the Addiction Commission was held on August 10. Of the residents who stepped up to serve on this commission, some were already involved in other addiction groups, some lost family and friends to addiction, and others had never been involved in a group of this kind or witnessed addiction. Current members include: Chairman, Jay Churchill, PhD.; Co-Chairman and Chairman of the Prevention & Outreach Pillar, Mike Randall; youth representative, Gage Randall; Chairman of the Education & Awareness Pillar, Ed Schildt; Chairman of the Support & Recovery Pillar, Myra Derbyshire, PhD.; Rachel Hubbard; and town liaison Commissioner Burns.

Within the Commission there are three Pillars (Education & Awareness, Support & Recovery, and Prevention & Outreach), each of which have monthly meetings and under their individual pillar address the issues and bring those to the TAC monthly meeting for guidance and discussion. Members of the Commission hope to use their knowledge, skills, talents and passion to bring addiction awareness to everyone. Losing loved ones to addiction can happen to anyone, so itís important for everyone to understand what signs to look for, where to go if help is needed, and where to receive support for those who are seeking it.

The Commission has already held the first Narcan training in Thurmont. Approximately 20-30 people were trained and then took free doses home. Burns mentioned that it is his goal to have a dose of Narcan in every home because it truly is lifesaving. Narcan immediately reverses the effect of an opioid overdose by blocking the receptors in the brain. With the epidemic growing, it is important to provide families with the knowledge and resources to help combat the problem.

Monthly Addiction Commission meetings are held on the second Thursdays of each month at 6 p.m. at the Thurmont town hall. The next Education & Awareness pillar meeting will be held on February 15 at the Thurmont Carnival Grounds, but for a full listing of meeting dates, email educationpillarTAC@gmail.com. The next Prevention & Outreach pillar meeting is on February 19 at 6:30 p.m. at the Thurmont Library. For more information on future meetings, email preventionpillarTAC@gmail.com. The Support & Recovery pillar will be scheduling a date to meet towards the end of February at the Thurmont Library. For more information on this pillar, email recoverypillartac@gmail.com.

All residents interested in attending meetings are welcome to join. For more information about the Addiction Commission, visit https://www.facebook.com/ThurmontAddictionCommission/.

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