The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that in 2016, there were 408 “opioid-related deaths in Nevada.” That is a rate of 13.3 deaths per 100,000 Nevada residents and is equal to that of the national rate.

Though Nevada saw a decrease in overdose deaths from 2011-2014, an uptick began and continue from 2015 to 2016.

Heroin-related death also doubled while deaths from prescribed opioids decreased from 362 to 275 deaths.

The Coalition of Mineral County hosted the Mineral County Rural Opioid Harm Reduction Summit on Wednesday, April 10 where health providers, mental health personnel and those affected by the increased use of opioids could come together to help those battling the addiction daily.

A panel of Mineral County residents came forward to share their personal battles with the crowd.

Mother and daughter panel members, Starr Williams and Keira Ulibarri shared their personal story of dealing with child who battles addiction.

“When my daughter started using, it was methamphetamines in 2006. That is when we very first put her [Keira] in rehab. We knew nothing about treatment facilities. There wasn’t anyone in our community to reach out to – to ask for help on what to do and how to find a treatment center, especially for an adolescent,” Williams explained. She went as far as to opening up the yellow pages of the phone book and going down the list and calling treatment center after treatment center, looking for the right help for her daughter.

In caring for her daughter, she found that many would point the finger at the parents. “In order to drive down Main Street in our little town and keep my head held high, I decided that I would become very proactive, so basically you can’t talk behind my back and tell me something that I am already telling you first.” In doing that, Williams would help to start a Substance Abuse Awareness Committee which helped addicts and parents with the same issues that her family was undergoing.

Williams explained that Mineral County still struggles finding counseling for addicts in the county. The panel agreed many explaining that the lack of consistent counselor’s hurts their progress as they have to continuously restart at the beginning of their stories and they never get to a new chapter.

An attraction to telehealth has become popular due to the anonymity it gives the addict. Those in treatment don’t have to worry about running into a counselor in the grocery store and worrying about what that person may think of them.

“I no longer have compulsions,” Joe Johnson told those in attendance. Johnson struggled with addiction since he was 12 years old, trading one addiction for another and explained that it wasn’t until he gave his life to God that he was able to beat all the needs and wants of addiction. “Except caffeine,” he joked. Johnson referred to a long-time addiction counselor in Hawthorne – the late, Rollie Rather and the work that Rather did for the community. Johnson is the son-in-law of Rather and explained that due to the lack of funding for programs that deal with addictions, Rather spent the last years of his life working at a service station.

The panel members explained that it doesn’t matter your social or financial status – anyone can be an addict.

“I firmly believe even if you do drugs, it doesn’t mean that you are a criminal,” Hawthorne Justice Court Judge Mike James explained after sharing his story of addiction.

“Prison doesn’t help anyone, especially addicts.” Ulibarri explained after spending time within the system where the only program available was Narcotics Anonymous. She has tried counseling in Hawthorne but due to the lack of services in Hawthorne and the rotation of counselors, she feels that she can’t get to the root of her issue when she can’t get off the starting line of her story.

After the sharing of their stories, those in attendance networked to better help anyone needing help with any addiction.

If you know someone in need of counseling reach out to a medical health provider.