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Drug prevention program seeks participants

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A new Nash County program that helps families build skills to help prevent substance abuse and increase academic success is seeking more participants.

The Empowering Youth and Families Program, a part of the N.C. Cooperative Extension office, began meeting on March 21 at Nashville United Methodist Church, 209 E. Washington St. The once-weekly program is free of charge for families with children ages 10-14 and includes dinner each week and a weekend family retreat.

“We’re trying to serve as many people as we can, as many families as we can,” said Adrienne Williams, program assistant for Nash County.

An initiative of the N.C. State University 4-H program and funded by Rural Health and Safety Education and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration grants, the program strives to prevent teen substance abuse, strengthen communication skills between parents and children and prevent violence and aggressive behavior at school and home.

“During the program, we build upon what’s already going on in the home to create a greater cohesiveness and open up the doors of communication,” Williams said.

The Empowering Youth and Families Program seeks to turn around the increasing costs and damages associated with substance abuse, particularly with opiods. North Carolina spends $582 million per year on opiod-related causes, and rural counties in the state have seen a 116 percent increase in opiod deaths since 2005.

The 12-week program will culminate in an event for Nash County residents to promote the prevention of opiod and substance abuse.

For information on the Empowering Youth and Families Program, contact Adrienne Williams at 252-459-9810 or email adwill23@ncsu.edu.