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Cumming chosen as pilot community in addiction program
National nonprofit aiming to reform public response to crisis
heroin

Read more about addiction

The Forsyth County News published an investigative series in 2015 on the rise of heroin deaths in Forsyth County and across the nation and what is being done to combat the problem.

CUMMING -- Stakeholders invested in solving the addiction crisis facing the community and entire the nation will soon be able to see Forsyth County in a spotlight as a crucial player in the fight.

Facing Addiction selected Cumming as one of only 15 cities in the United States to participate as a pilot community in the organization’s first-time study and project.

The Recovery Community Foundation of Forsyth (RCFF) applied for Cumming to be chosen for the program, which will aim to reform and enhance the public response to addiction through a “grassroots-driven campaign strategy.

“We really are working to empower and encourage long-term recovery from addiction and provide support service to people and families in Forsyth County,” said Joan Simmons, with RCFF.

The program will work with each pilot community to:
• Secure increases in localized funding to address the issue
• Train advocates on proper organizational and advocacy techniques to reform and enhance their community’s response
• Invest time and resources in communication opportunities with elected officials and other police makers
• Provide media guidance to garner press overage to further highlight the solutions to the problem
• Develop political strategies and aid community stakeholders in the development of an overarching campaign strategy

“As addiction to alcohol and other drugs now impacts one in three households in America, we must urgently work to turn the tide on this health crisis,” said Greg Williams, co-founder and executive vice president of Facing Addiction.

The nonprofit works to bring together resources in the field to reduce the “human and social costs of addiction.”

Michael King, a spokesman for Facing Addiction, said the group received more than 50 applications to be a pilot community between October 2016 through the end of the year.

“There’s not a community in the country that couldn’t use something like this [program],” King said.

He said Cumming was chosen in large part due to RCFF and “their enthusiasm for the project.”

Though only being in operation since August 2016, RCFF has made a spot for themselves in the community by getting their voice out through this program and by showing the movie “Generation Found” at the AMC in The Collection at Forsyth.

While not officially partnered yet with the Forsyth County Drug Awareness Council, a group of officials, county players and community stakeholders, Tammy Nicholson, director of the council, said the more voices in the fight the better.

“They’re more on the recovery side, and we’re on the prevention side,” Nicholson said. “It takes an entire community working together.”

She said it is important to fight all aspects of addiction because the “stigma is not only in hiding the issue when you are addicted, but there’s also a stigma when you want to reach out for help and even a stigma when want to share your experiences.

“The stigma and being ashamed is as devastating as the addiction itself in having a chemical imbalance to fight.”