(the) Local Matters series creates community conversations around substance abuse

The series was developed by Assistant Professor Jennifer Carroll in connection with her "Citizenship in Crisis" course.

(The) Local Matters speaker series at Elon recently launched featuring Rural Services Linkage to Care Coordinator and member of the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition Regina Musa. Musa addressed Assistant Professor of Anthropology Jennifer Carroll’s class as well as other members of the Elon community in her discussion titled “Engaging People Who Use Drugs.”

(the) Local Matters is a series of discussions centered around substance abuse in Alamance County.

The series was developed by Carroll as a part of her course titled “Citizenship in Crisis.” Last spring Carroll was selected for the Periclean Faculty Leadership Program, which aims to develop pedagogies based on community-based learning with a specific focus on civic engagement an as well as civic responsibility.

“The goal of this series is to open up more space for community conversation about these issues which I feel is a particularly important goal in Alamance County because there are statistics around substance use and overdose that are slightly above average,” Carroll said.

Carroll says that Alamance County has a lot of need and not enough services. One example of this is that Alamance County is one of the few counties in North Carolina without a syringe access program, opioid overdose education or Naloxone and distribution program.

Musa honed in on these themes in her discussion about how we can better understand addiction and ultimately understand our communities better. As someone who has personally faced addiction, Musa said she is able to meet people struggling with drug addiction where they are in life to better support them.

“The reason I do the work I do is because if someone didn’t do it for me, I wouldn’t be here,” Musa said.

Musa answered various questions about her experience personally and in the field throughout the discussion from students, faculty and community members—something crucial to the community engagement element of this course.

“That’s the one thing, that this whole course is around civic engagement and discussing substance use,” Carroll said. “The more we talk about it, the less scary it is, the less shameful it is, the more we can figure our stuff out together.”

Carroll says that she has yet to meet someone in the Elon community who has not been touched by substance use, either their own or their loved ones and says that this has led to pain and grief within the community.

Carroll hopes that by bringing speakers like Regina Musa, Courtney Jones and Virgil Hays to campus, that they can lead by example and showcase how to “still be frustrated, still feel your grief, still feel your anger, but use that to serve one another and build communities based around love.”

Upcoming speakers in the series include:

Oct. 16: Capt. Dalton Majors
4:15 to 5:15 p.m., Moseley 128 F/McKinnon F

Division of Community Relations, Burlington Police Department

Majors will discuss strategies for community policing in the opioid crisis.

Oct. 23: Virgil Hayes
4:15 to 5:15 p.m., Moseley 128 F/McKinnon F

Advocacy Manager, North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition

Hayes will discuss the use of a harm reduction approach to address structural violence in the drug economy.

Oct. 30: Stacie Saunders
4:15 to 5:15 p.m., Moseley 215

Director of the Alamance County Department of Health

Saunders will discuss the role of local public health in community response to opioids.

Nov. 6: Sean Boone
4:15 to 5:15 p.m., Moseley 215

District Attorney of Alamance County

Boone will speak about prosecution responses to substance use.

Nov. 13: Courtney Jones
4:15 to 5:15 p.m., Moseley 128 F/McKinnon F

Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist (LCAS)

Jones will discuss how to help those living with addiction achieve long-term sobriety.