Last updated: February 25. 2014 5:08PM - 957 Views
By Kitsey E. Burns kburns@civitasmedia.com

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YADKINVILLE — Area leaders will gather on March 6 to establish a program designed to battle prescription drug abuse in Yadkin county. Project Lazarus was created in Wilkes County in 2008 by Fred Brason in response to the high number of prescription overdose related deaths in the county.

Ken Boaz, pastor at First Baptist Church in Yadkinville, said that Brason’s connection to health care by way of being a chaplain allowed him to observe the increasing number of prescription drug related deaths.

“He started to notice all the people struggling with addiction problems related to prescription drugs and a lot of people very sick and dying,” Boaz said. “But rather than being sad about the situation or upset, he took some steps and developed this program called Project Lazarus. It’s a community-wide effort to combat the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs.”

The group seeks to combine expertise from medical, education and law enforcement professionals. Brason recently spoke to a group of around 100 Yadkin County residents about the project. Boaz was chosen as the administrator for Yadkin County.

At the luncheon on March 6, which will be held in the fellowship hall at First Baptist Church, Boaz said the group will be developing an action plan to launch Project Lazarus.

Invitations were sent to all those who attended the initial meeting and area residents with an interest in the project, particularly those in leadership positions in education, health, social services or those in the medical or pharmaceutical fields, are encouraged to attend.

According to the Project Lazarus website, the organization “believes that communities are ultimately responsible for their own health and that every drug overdose is preventable.” The group is “a secular, non-profit organization that provides technical assistance to community groups and clinicians throughout North Carolina and beyond. Using experience, data, and compassion [they] empower communities and individuals to prevent drug overdoses and meet the needs of those living with chronic pain.”

Project Lazarus already has helped to reduce the number of prescription drug-related deaths in Wilkes County and organizers think it will greatly benefit Yadkin as well.

“This is an important thing for Yadkin County because it can reduce the number of prescription drugs that are misused, abused and diverted as well as the number of people addicted and dying from drug overdoses,” said Theresa Knops, director of the Ark Shelter in Elkin, which also serves Yadkin County.

Knops also encouraged any interested in this project to become involved by attending the March 6 meeting.

“We really feel that this is a way that people can take care and protect their community, their environment and those they love,” she said.

Boaz also noted that he is available to speak to church or civic groups that may want to learn more about the project.

For more information, visit www.projectlazarus.org. To RSVP for the Project Lazarus luncheon on March 6, email ken.a.boaz@gmail.com on or before March 3.

Kitsey E. Burns may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.

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