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Inspired by the experience of one of its congregation members who lost a son to a drug overdose, St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Franklin will hold a community event focusing on the opioid crisis at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 29.

Titled “Addiction and the Opioid Crisis: Community Education Panel,” the event will offer residents of Williamson County and the surrounding area a chance to learn about the basic scope of the opioid crisis as well as local resources to help affected individuals and families.

The panel will consist of a wide range of experts in various fields, an indication perhaps of how widespread the epidemic has become.

“I knew a little bit about the crisis, and then I started meeting with people who deal with it in their careers on a daily basis,” St. Andrew Pastor Katherine Museus Dabay said. “I was shocked at how far-reaching it is and the impact it has in all parts of our society. The way it leads to different drug abuses and the way it messes up families, I think it’s a health crisis that kind of has tendrils going all over the place in our society.”

According to the Health Resources & Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 116 people a day die from opioid-related drug overdoses.

Vic Hundt, a member of the church, had to endure that statistic firsthand when he lost his son, a U.S. Marine, to a drug overdose a couple of years ago. In the wake of his son’s death, Hundt’s mission has been to help educate others about opioid addiction in order to prevent more deaths.

“We will begin by hearing Vic’s story, focusing on the signs he missed as a parent while his son was hooked on opioids,” Museus Dabay said in an email. “Our professional experts will cover things like how addiction works physically (in our brains and body); how the treatment of pain has changed in America in recent decades; current legal cases having to do with the opioid crisis; effects on children, families, and even newborn babies; and some of what’s being done to combat the crisis.”

After Hundt tells about his experience, he will be followed by these panelists: a psychiatrist (Anne Fottrell, Mercy Community Healthcare), a pharmacist (Laura McElroy, Maury Regional), a juvenile court judge (Jane C. Franks, Williamson County), and an attorney specializing in health care law (Jeff Moseley).

St. Andrew Lutheran Church is located at 908 Murfreesboro Road in Franklin.

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