Apex task force aims to help people struggling with drugs, alcohol; spreads awareness during holidays

Wake County News

APEX, N.C. (WNCN) – In February, it was just in infancy. Now, Apex’s Substance Misuse Task Force is starting to make strides.

“What we are still doing and what we spent a lot of the past doing, as well, was trying to solidify who is on the task force and what those members are going to contribute,” Holland Steen explained.

Steen has been clean since 2018 and is helping others fight similar battles. At the beginning of the year, he and Mayor Jacques Gilbert came together to form the task force.

“Well, for me, it was believing in [Steen] from the beginning and really hearing his mission,” Gilbert said.

The task force is made up of nine people from different backgrounds. It aims to create awareness, provide help and resources to people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.

“Just this year alone we’ve had 12 incidents of where community members administered naloxone,” Gilbert said.

“We want to head into 2022 with a clearer idea. I’ve taken calls at 2 a.m. It has been 4 a.m. and into dinner and we are all still working,” Steen later said.

Steen said picking up the phone to help people in need is especially important with it being the holidays.

“The amount of calls we get the day after Thanksgiving. The day after Christmas and the day after New Year’s Eve, on those days it is astronomically higher in those three days than any other day out of the year,” Steen said.

“This is one of the highest drinking holidays of the year. Mixed with family coming together it can be a lot. Picking up that phone and calling a cab or calling a taxi so you don’t get behind the wheel is always what we try to bring up first,” Steen said.

Gilbert said he hope this task force can be a model for other cities and towns.

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