Back L-R: Stephanie Walters, Admin. Assistant; Roxanne Roedel, Project Coordinator; Kandas Motsinger, Project Coordinator; Front: Trish Burchette, Executive Director; Denise Woods, Project Coordinator/Prevention Specialist.
Photos by Rita Hewett

By Meg Dickens

National Library of Medicine experts describe drug abuse as a serious problem that affects almost every person and community in some form. Tennessee is number 2 in opioid abuse per population. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation lists 172 names on the Drug Offender Registry database in Johnson County alone. ACTION Coalition fights to nip this problem in the bud before it can develop. That is why ACTION focuses strongly on prevention.
ACTION stands for Alliance of Citizens Together Improving Our Neighborhoods and that is an accurate description. Local volunteers work together to fight the drug epidemic through a focus on education and knowledge. Understanding the issue reduces stigmas, which makes those in need more likely to seek help. This education includes information on how to speak to an affected party and how to identify physical signs of addiction. The new politically correct term for drug abuse is Substance Use Disorder (SUD).
“We need to eliminate the stigmas,” said ACTION Director Trish Burchette. “Treatment has to be judgment-free so that people feel free to get help.”
Overdose deaths are on a decline thanks to Naloxone. This drug reverses opioid overdose enough to
stabilize a person until help can arrive. Naloxone
costs 185 dollars, but
ACTION now provides the Narcan Nasal Spray variant for free. This drug is useful but does not solve the ultimate problem: how to stop the cycle. Burchette believes that aftercare
is an essential step neglected in the process.
Patients get treatment then leave without further ado. Proper aftercare can put the person back on the right track.
Burchette plans to work with the faith community to make in-home aftercare an option.
The stirring committee meets at the end of the month to discuss the possibilities with the projected launch date is in May or June of 2019. Opening a local facility is the next goal to reach.
“It will be a safe, judgment-free environment for people in recovery,” explained Burchette.
Early education may stop an addiction before it begins. The ACTION team works with children from elementary levels and up to help them understand the dangers of drug use. Burchette cited that drug experimentation is starting earlier than ever. There have been cases of children as young as fourth graders (9 to 10 years old) experimenting.
ACTION uses traditional education along with bonding activities and recreational awareness tools to help students become more comfortable with the organization and subject matter. This includes the recent “What Keeps You Tobacco Free?” photography contest. Project Coordinator, Roxanne Roedel hosts activities such as this at the JCHS library during lunch periods.
ACTION is doing well. Foot traffic has increased at their location, and President Trump’s President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis granted the organization some extra funds. The organization now has two drug take-back boxes, one at the Sheriff’s Department and one at the Johnson County Community Hospital, and is helping Hancock County creation a coalition of its own.
ACTION Coalition offers a wide variety of training as well as community information. Coalition members are open to speaking to any group or organization. They host a public forum meeting the last Tuesday of every month at 11:30 at First Christian Church. For more information about the Johnson County ACTION Coalition and its upcoming projects, contact Trish Burchette at tburchette@actioncoalition.org.