Savings Lives Task Force: Spotlight on John Windley

By on June 24, 2019

By Brenda Thacker

This month the Saving Lives Task Force features an interview between Brenda Thacker and businessman and Kill Devil Hills Commissioner John Windley

How did you get started with the Saving Lives Task Force?

I met Joann Hummers at the 2017 Walk Against Addiction. Joann is an amazing person dedicated to helping those struggling with addiction issues. She told me about the SLTF and invited me to attend a meeting.

My first SLTF meeting was eye-opening. I had never seen a group of people coming from such diverse backgrounds and occupations working together to address substance abuse issues before. SLTF meetings are educational.

Until attending an SLTF meeting, like many Dare County residents I was unaware about the seriousness of the drug problems our community is facing.

Joann’s invitation to attend a meeting was my start with the Saving Lives Task Force.

How long have you been with the Task Force?

Two years. I began participating after the 2017 Walk Against Addiction.

Have you witnessed any changes in substance use since you have been with the task force?

Yes. I work in a pharmacy, which is a front-row seat to many of the addiction issues our community is dealing with. As laws like the STOP Act come into effect, and availability of prescription opioids is diminished, many opioid users are switching to Schedule 1 (illegal) narcotics.

This is especially frightening considering the spread of Fentanyl-based drugs across North Carolina. The potency of Fentanyl-based opioids is extremely dangerous. Some are so strong that Naloxone cannot touch them. The trend of prescription opioid users moving to illegal forms of the drug is the most alarming change in substance abuse I’ve witnessed since joining the task force.

On a brighter side, since I joined the task force I’ve witnessed a proliferation of drug disposal kiosks installed across Dare County. These safe drop-off spots are well utilized. There is good public awareness about how to safely dispose of medications and the importance of securing dangerous controlled substances to keep them away from users and children.

How does your life/professional status interact with addiction?

Working in a pharmacy, we see different types of addiction all day: tobacco, alcohol and prescription abuse. Interacting with these different forms of addiction is a sobering reminder of the importance of groups like the Saving Lives Task Force.

Two years ago someone suffered an opioid overdose in our store’s parking lot. This person was dropped off, left on the cement, by friends. This person was non-responsive when they were found.

Luckily EMT got there in time to administer Naloxone and save a life. I was standing right next to them when this person was brought back. That interaction with addiction will always be with me and motivates me to stay active with the SLTF.

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