Drug-Alcohol Coalition of Iredell presents Wahlberg film, program on March 20

Posted at 9:32 PM on Mar 10, 2019


daci event.jpgBY DEBBIE PAGE

Area youth and their parents are invited to join James Wahlberg, executive director of the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation and brother of actor Mark Wahlberg, for a screening of the film “If Only” at Lake Norman High School on Wednesday, March 20.

The event begins at 6:30 p.m.

This short film, intended for teens, parents and concerned adults, hopes to raise awareness about the dangers of prescription drug misuse and to encourage the safe use, storage and disposal of prescription drugs to keep them out of the hands of kids and others who may misuse them.

The event organizers, Drug-Alcohol Coalition of Iredell and Iredell-Statesville Schools, hope his dramatic film will help parents and teens start a dialogue about opioid abuse, which affects hundreds of thousands of youth and adults across the country.

The screening will be followed by a question-and-answer session, and local agencies will be on site to provide information about substance use and treatment.

The film follows the life journey of Isacc Diaz (played by Jeffrey Wahlberg, Jim Wahlberg's son), a high school student who falls into an opiate addiction. The movie also portrays a contrast between one parent who watched for signs of substance misuse and another who did not.

The movie closes with a series of images, including people holding pictures of loved ones pictures lost to overdose. These people also served as extras during a funeral in the final scene of the movie.


Substance misuse is causing real impacts on the quality and length of Americans’ lives and is a drain on the economy because of lost productivity and costs of addiction treatment.

The Centers for Disease Control reported that the increase in opioid death rates contributed to a decrease in American life expectancy of about 0.3 percent in 2017, the first decrease since 1993.

A staggering 521,375,000 opioids were dispensed in North Carolina in 2017, and too many fall into the hands of those misusing the drug. Many teens are first introduced to opioids from leftover prescriptions in the family medicine cabinet.

According to the CDC, drug overdose death rates in 2017 were higher among males than females, and “were especially pronounced among men aged 25–34 and women aged 15–24 – for whom drug overdose death rates increased by an average of 26.7 percent per year and 19.4 percent per year, respectively, during 2014–2016.”

In Iredell County, 28 people died from opioid overdose in 2017 (the latest detailed data available), with six more dying from heroin overdose, seven from benzodiazepines, and 39 from other medications and drugs.

So far in 2019, 19 people have already been treated in Iredell County hospital emergency rooms because of opioid overdose, with six more suffering from heroin overdose and nine from benzodiazepines.

Local ERs have also treated 191 people for alcohol abuse and dependency and 258 for drug abuse and dependency. Seventy-three patients presented for opioid abuse and dependence treatment.

According to data just released by the N.C. Division of Public Health, 6,772 people reported to emergency rooms across the state for treatment for opioid overdoses in 2018. The statewide rate of opioid overdose last year was 65.9 per 100,000 residents.

Though this overdose number is reduced from 2017, it is still 22 percent above the 2015 count of 5,546. Of those reported overdoses, 2,414 died in 2017.

Seventy-three percent of those visiting N.C. emergency rooms for overdose last year were white, with 60 percent of the overdoses occurring in males. The largest group (35 percent) were between 25 and 34 years old. Those 24 or younger accounted for about 20 percent of overdoses.

Fifty-one percent of the NC ER overdose visits were the result of heroin use, with 28 percent involving other synthetic narcotics.

In 2017, 19,202 uninsured or people on Medicaid were going through addiction treatment programs (up from 15,282 in 2016).


The mission of the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation is to assist youth to ensure that no child is limited or prevented from attaining their lifetime goal or dream due to financial circumstances.

Established in 2001 by Mark and Jim, the organization works to raise and distribute funds to youth service and enrichment programs.The Wahlberg brothers are lifelong members of and advocates for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

Mark came from a family of nine children and spent most of his afternoons and evenings at his local club. He credits a large part of his success to the fact that he was fortunate enough to spend his free time in the positive and nurturing environment of the Boys and Girls Club.


► Learn more about the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation at https://www.markwahlbergyouthfoundation.org
► Read about the film at http://www.ifonlymovie.org
► For event information, contact DACI coordinator Jill St. Clair at jill.stclair@co.iredell.nc.us

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