PORT Health: A key resource in fighting substance abuse

By on November 20, 2017

The Outer Banks Voice and Brenda Thacker of the Savings Lives Task Force have teamed up to produce a monthly article on substance abuse in Dare County and the efforts to combat it.

By Brenda Thacker

The November Saving Lives Task Force highlight is Michelle Hawbaker from PORT Health.

Michelle has been a part of the task force since it originated. PORT’s licensed counselors provide outpatient therapy in most of the Dare County schools.


At a recent meeting, she was presenting data to the local Dare County Child Collaborative, including the number of children served and issues being addressed in therapy.

Dare County Commissioner Wally Overman was present and appeared to be shocked at the number of children who needed counseling and the types of issues treated. Most striking was the number PORT was assisting with experimental substance use or coping with a loved one who is struggling with substance use disorder.

Overman was adamant about finding a way to support these children and give them the best chance of success. He arranged for local providers working with children to meet to discuss how we could work together to meet the needs of the children who are struggling now as well as implement strategies that could prevent youth from experimenting with substance use.

I asked Michelle what changes she has witnessed since being with the task force. She said she has seen a dramatic increase in collaboration among those participating in the Task Force. For example, in PORT Health Services alone, we now have a group which is co-facilitated by a Peer support staff from Recovery Innovations.

PORT hosts the Source Church staff at their clinic once a month to educate individuals about the syringe exchange and provide HIV and HEP screen tests. PORT calls on members, including the Walk Against Addiction and Source Church, to assist in providing/paying for transportation to detoxification/rehabilitation services out of Dare County.


They regularly refer significant others to the Nar-anon group and Christian support groups run by members of the Task Force. The regular contact with others and relationships that have been built through participation in the collaborative have no doubt resulted in improved care for the individuals PORT Health Services treat who are seeking recovery.

Just like the individuals who are struggling with substance use disorders, the people that make up the Task Force are very diverse. We all have one thing in common. We believe that ultimately, prevention is the solution, but in the meantime, every life has value and is deserving of the opportunity to live a life in recovery.

PORT Health Services treats adults and children for both mental health and substance use disorders.


They use licensed clinical staff to provide assessment, individual and group treatment. The office is located at 2808 S. Croatan Highway in Nags Head. Please contact them at 252-441-2324.

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