Mitchell-Yancey Substance Abuse Task Force Recaps 2013 Successes

With the support and involvement of a broad cross-section of the community, the Task Force is confident that progress has been made in reducing substance abuse in both Mitchell and Yancey counties. The most high profile community event has been the spring and fall Drug Take Back Day.

In 2013, more than 233,000 pills were shipped to DEA facilities in Atlanta from our two counties to be destroyed. Removing these medications from circulation decreased the possibility of improper access and abuse and reduced damage to our environment from trashing or flushing. Similar collection events are scheduled for 2014. Outdated or unused prescription medications can also be deposited during regular business hours without question in drug drop boxes at law enforcement offices in both Mitchell and Yancey counties. Drug Drop Box/Drug Safety Guidelines flyers were also distributed to all medical offices and pharmacies in the two counties.

With funding from various state and local entities, including the Mitchell Community Health Partnership, the Task Force was able to purchase 100 medication lock boxes which will be distributed through various social service agencies, senior citizen centers and local clinics to those in particular need of securing medications in their homes.
In conjunction with Graham Children’s Health Services, the Task Force has expanded the original after school program for students in Yancey County to Harris Middle School in Spruce Pine with plans to further expand the program in March to Bowman Middle School in Bakersville. The program is a combination of 4H based activities as well as team building projects selected by the program coordinator, physical exercise, adult mentoring and healthy snacks.

As part of its overall focus on youth and families, the Task Force also shared in the sponsorship of the Yancey County Tennis Camp, Mitchell High Eco Club Hike, Mitchell and Yancey County Pool Parties and Family Movie Night. A Summer Activities Resource Guide was also compiled and distributedto school children and their families throughout our community . These events and materials are a sampling of the activities and programs in which the Task Force was involved in 2013 many of which will continue through 2014.
According to Task Force Chair Mechelle Akers, a Yancey County pharmacist, “The success of our Task Force comes from the commitment of many community members in battling the problem of substance abuse.  As individuals we cannot do it alone. We have doctors, nurses, pharmacists, law enforcement, school teachers and administrators, DSS, health departments, hospital administration and employees, government officials, veteran advocates, concerned citizens, school students and faith based organizations all working together to move forward our goals for a healthy community.  I want to also personally recognize the generous individuals in our community who are donating time and money to make the Task Force a success.  Your support is greatly appreciated.  We look forward to continuing our hard work the next five years by seeking a Drug Free Community Grant.”

For further information on the Task Force and how you might participate in its activities through volunteering or providing financial or other support, please contact Task Force Coordinator Rob Heffron at 828-682-7899 or

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