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Substance Misuse or How Do We Save Our Families or Can We Recover From Our Addiction To $$ Created By Addiction?

I love Ashe County.  All of Ashe County 

I love the unlovable parts of Ashe county. The parts that make the tourists cringe. I love the places up in the hollers with moonshine stills…. Wait… I reckon that’s meth labs now, isn’t it ? 

With the broken down trailers and RVs and junk cars.  

I love our people. The people that the tourists find ugly. The people who live in homes built of tires and refrigerator boxes and tarps.  The ones who live in broken down houses on broken down farms where the tin is blowing off the barn roof….Oh wait !! that’s me ; )  

I am mad at Ashe County.  I feel impotent and ineffectual. I feel voiceless. This is a righteous anger born of watching my people be dragged down by substances that were handed to them by health care professionals! The people we are supposed to trust ! Last month someone from a committee I am on met with a group of people who work in harm reduction. They were asking what we could do to support their work.  They were concerned that anything we did would draw attention to them and make their work harder. Do more harm than good. 

I was sick to my stomach!!! I am still sick to my stomach.  How can fighting a drug epidemic that has harmed so many of our families …. ? 

Why can’t the people doing the work… the experts… Why can’t they count on the unconditional support of county officials ??  

Who does it benefit for our county to still be dying from this epidemic? 

I think I became an activist today, Dolly once asked at a Down Home meeting “when did you become an activist ?? “ I thought What the heck ? I'm not an activist !   I said I didn’t know … and Jeff Land said oh you’ve just always been an activist ?  I don’t know … what the heck ? 

But today, when I heard that publicity around the work of the people doing harm reduction work could very possibly backfire and cause their work to be more difficult … 

Ineffable. Its the only word. There just aren’t any words, or enough words or … even a big enough emotion for what i felt… and feel … 

This is an epidemic. This is an epidemic that is robbing people of families … sons and daughters and mamas and daddies.  

Why are we still fighting a war on ignorance?  Why hasn’t our county been out front in this fight ? 

We are losing people daily and still rolling our eyes at the idea that addiction is a disease !!! 

Is it classism? Is it money ? Is it corruption?  Keep people stupid, numb and making money for the few ?

I asked my cousin Jefferson once, Why can’t we have peace? Now Jefferson is a hippie from WAY back,  I was hoping for some sage answer. He just laughed and said Are you kidding?? The economy would completely collapse !  

I realized he was right. We are addicted to war 

 Ashe County has a drug problem. We are addicted to substance misuse. 

Not from a physiological standpoint… but from a dollar bill standpoint.  How much revenue is gained through substance misuse in this county ? 

Into whose pockets does that money go ? 

In 2019, I attended a 2 day event at the Landing  put on by AMH to address the Opioid Crisis. They had received a grant. 

I was an oddity there, with all those medical people and folks who work in Harm Reduction and know what they are doing, I was invited because of the Odd Fellows. I was just absolutely and completely out of my league y’all, and boy did I ever learn bucketfuls. 

As the mom of an “addict” who had been brought up on the tough love model, my mind was blown. I was learning all sorts of new vocabulary … and compassion… a lot of compassion. 

I asked Ashley Wurth how to empower someone without enabling them. She very gently explained to me that it was the same word. You know how you sometimes read or learn something and you can feel your brain expand and shift ? oh man… did I ever!  It was a change of perspective for me. I learned about Adverse Childhood Experiences scores and how that is an indicator.  

As I have continued to learn about the disease of addiction over the years, my compassion has continued to grow, As well as a lot of righteous anger. 

How have we allowed this? The medical community has ALWAYS known that addiction was a disease. 

I have a lot of anger at the medical community here, continuing to pass out narcotics long after the rest of the world knew the harm they were causing.  

OOPS … Make a U turn, don’t go down that rabbit hole Nancy. 

How can we address addiction in a meaningful way here?   


On April 17, 2024, A grassroots group I work with, Down Home North Carolina,  is hosting a listening session about Harm Reduction and how we can go forward. Lots of good information, lots of people who will share their experiences.

I will update you as soon as I have more information, I sure would like to see you there. 

We need your voices. 

We need the voices of people who are affected by the fallout of substance misuse.

Whose Ashe County ? Our Ashe County!

Love you ! Nancy Beth

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