About 50 people – advocates, teachers, nurses, lawyers, parents and children of addicts, and those on the road to recovery – came to the first meeting of the Worcester County Warriors Against Opiate Addiction last Thursday at the Ocean Pines Library.

Jackie Ball and Heidi McNeely, two local mothers who have watched their children struggle with heroin addiction, organized the meeting.

“It makes me cry to see so many people tonight,” McNeely, a Bishopville resident, said. “I think we are all so thrilled.

“We have formed this group out of a passionate desire to eradicate opiate abuse and deaths in our county,” she continued. “We want to be able to help the people that we love, whose lives have been altered by opiate abuse, and to help each other in this tumultuous journey of loving someone who is addicted to opiates, or having loved someone whose life was ended as a result of opiate addiction.”

McNeely said the purpose of the meeting was to explore how the group could achieve those goals. She asked those in attendance to fill out a contact sheet to be used to build an email group, and said a website and social media push would be a part of the campaign.

She also discussed free training classes for how to employ Naloxone, a drug used to treat opiate overdoses. Fact cards about the classes were passed out, and McNeely said the county health department offers at least four training classes each month.

“We, as a county, have a lot of resources that I didn’t even know existed,” McNeely said. “One thing that we can do is to share these resources and to educate loved ones about what kind of things are available to them.”

McNeely said one of her goals was to build a “physical navigation center for anyone who is on this journey.”

“I would ask that, tonight, you consider what you want this group to do,” she said. “Think about what tools you have to arm yourself, and us, in this battle. Are you good at social media? Can you design a logo? Do you have a passion for event planning? Are you willing to make a phone call to a mom whose daughter has just been arrested for possession of heroin? Are you good at fundraising?”

The group will meet again on May 24, at 6:30 p.m., in the Ocean Pines Library.

For more information, or to register for a free training class on how to get and use Naloxone, call 410-213-0202 ext. 100.