GREENVILLE — The Greenville school district is collaborating to keep a community-wide conversation going about opioid addiction.
Greenville Public Schools is hosting a substance abuse program called Stop the Madness! on Monday. The doors of Greenville High School open at 6:15 p.m. and the program starts at 7 p.m.
A training session with free naloxone kits will be offered at 6:30 p.m.
Naloxone is an antidote for opioid overdose that can save the life of a person experiencing an overdose. Naloxone binds to the opioid receptors in the brain and gives the overdosing person 30 to 90 minutes of a reprieve to get medical attention.
Also available for attendees will be home drug tests with eight panels to test for eight different substances, including heroin and cocaine. Those are being provided by Greenville Area Community Foundation.
Registered nurses Wendy Debruyn and Patti Gray from Greenville Public Schools have worked for weeks to organize the event. Debruyn said they didn’t expect the event to be as big as it’s shaping up to be.
“We thought we would just put on this small program and the more people I talked to, the more I heard, ‘Did you talk to so-and-so?’” Wendy said. “So then I contacted everybody and no one turned us down.”
Some of the planned speakers include Charlie Mahar and Justin Yost for Ionia/Montcalm Families Against Narcotics (I/M FAN); Kevin Sweeney, the commander of the Michigan State Police Lakeview Post; Dr. Matthew DeWys and others.
Vendors and local resources will have booths set up at the school as well, including North Kent Guidance, Montcalm Prevention Collaborative, Montcalm County Recovery and Integrated Services of Care and the Montcalm Alano Club.
“I, as a nurse working in the community, didn’t even know most of these resources were available. I’m assuming everyday people aren’t aware of it either if we in the health care field don’t know they’re available,” Debruyn said.
Attendees will have the chance to send text messages with questions they may have for speakers if they aren’t comfortable speaking about a certain topic during the public forum.
The Greenville Department of Public Safety is coordinating safe disposal of old medications so people can bring their old medications as well.
Greenville High School Principal Jeff Wright said he’s happy the schools are involved in putting on this program, although he wishes there wasn’t a need for it.
He recalled a similar event hosted at the high school five years ago, but he noted that event wasn’t as big as what Monday’s probably will be.
“We really want a good turnout. People are coming with their passion to get this information out. We’re just hoping people show up,” Gray said.
Debruyn said they’d originally talked about incorporating an event like this into freshmen orientation at the high school for students to learn more about drug addiction and how addiction can begin. After that program was done and was well received, they started talking about what else they could do. They decided to go with something further reaching when district administrators said it would be a good idea.
“I know (opioid addiction) is here. It’s everywhere. Families are struggling. There’s a lot going on,” Gray said. “I can’t put my head in the mud here and say we don’t have a problem. It’s a public healthcare epidemic so let’s try and be proactive.”
Gray said the program will also talk about behavioral changes and warning signs of drug use and addiction so friends and family can be on the lookout for those things.