RALEIGH — Yadkinville native Kerry Aguilera has been appointed to Attorney General Josh Stein’s Council on Collegiate Opioid Misuse. To kick off the council’s work, Aguilera traveled to Appalachian State University Monday to represent UNC-Greensboro at the inaugural meeting.
Stein created this council, comprised of students from colleges and universities across the state, to work with students to confront the opioid crisis on college campuses. Stein convened Monday’s meeting, followed by presentations from Watauga County Sheriff Len Hagaman and five experts in substance misuse.
“I wanted to join this council to raise awareness of the resources we have at UNCG,” Aguilera said. “Addiction is, in general, a mental health disorder that doesn’t let an individual think clearly. A person with an addiction should not be blamed; instead, we should address the addiction. That is what I hope we can accomplish.”
Aguilera is studying psychology and global studies at UNC-Greensboro. He is a graduate of Yadkin Early College High School.
The council, which includes students active in student government, campus athletics, Greek life, public health and social work studies, and college recovery programs, will meet four times this school year to discuss strategies for addressing substance misuse at their schools. In addition to receiving training sessions at each meeting, students will also provide recommendations to the Attorney General’s Office for combating the opioid crisis at the collegiate level.
“Students are the most valuable partners we can have in the effort to confront substance misuse on college campuses,” said Stein. “I am encouraged by the talent and enthusiasm these students bring to the effort. The opioid epidemic is among the biggest threats to public health we face today. Confronting it will require creative solutions and collaboration at every level.”
Combatting the opioid epidemic is a top priority for Stein. Since taking office in January, he has convened round table discussions in 18 communities across the state to share local strategies and perspectives. He has also initiated an investigation into the role of drug manufacturers and distributors in creating the crisis, and has promoted legislative action to address it — including the STOP Act, which became law in June. This council marks the first time Stein has taken this work directly to students.