Dearborn, Mich.–Nearly 200 individuals attended the ACCESS Substance Abuse Program’s (ASAP) second annual Community Town Hall to better understand how addiction impacts disparate communities and how these communities can come together to effectively address the national epidemic.
The event took place Tuesday, January 30 at 6 p.m. at the Arab American National Museum (AANM) Annex, 13642 Michigan Ave, Dearborn, MI 48126, where the crucial and interactive discussion featured a panel of experts that helped encourage a conversation with community members on how to best address addiction in communities that often face social disparities.
The Town hall was an opportunity for community members to learn more about the work the Community Coalition has been doing and ask a panel of experts questions related to opioid addiction. Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly, one of several dignitaries in attendance, also gave remarks about the importance of addressing the issue, following an uptick in opioid related overdoses and deaths.
“Our goal was to create a safe space for people to come together to be able to talk about a very sensitive topic,” said Director of ACCESS Community Health and Research Center Mona Makki. “No one has all the answers and the resources are limited, but coming together will certainly make a difference. As a community, we can no longer be silent. This issue has impacted our very own and it’s a shared responsibility to address this.”
Panelists included medical researcher Dr. Kamal Khalil of the Team Wellness Center in Detroit; Imam Ibrahim Kazerooni of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn; Pharmacist Ghada Abdallah; Director of Community Relations for Growth Works Brian Spitsbergen; Mental Health Therapist and certified recovery coach Sean McGraw; Coordinator for Affective Education of Dearborn Public Schools Danene Charles; Dearborn Heights Police Chief Lee Gavin; Wayne County Executive Office's Assad Turfe; Meridian Health Services' Diane Morris and ACCESS Peer Recovery Coach Nader Habhab.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 42,000 people died in 2016 from prescription opiod, heroin and fentanyl overdoses. This amount is higher than any prior year, further attesting that the epidemic continues to worsen.
In the City of Dearborn, latest data reveals that drug-related arrests have more than doubled; having climbed from 500 in 2011 to more than 1,000 in 2016.
Since its inception, the ASAP Community Coalition has been working to break stigmas in the community by addressing addiction, head on. These passionate and driven individuals have placed medication disposal boxes around their communities, formed a substance abuse prevention youth group, continue to speak at various community events and have provided educational resources to community members who are seeking a deeper understanding of addiction.
Grounded in a grassroots commitment to serving our community, ACCESS has a 47[RT1] -year history of providing health, education, employment and social services. An Arab American nonprofit of excellence, ACCESS empowers communities in Southeast Michigan to improve their economic, social and cultural well-being and extends this mission nationally through its three national institutions— the Arab American National Museum (AANM), the Center for Arab American Philanthropy (CAAP) and the National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC). Learn more at www.accesscommunity.org.