A Carthage family hopes to honor the memory of a fallen brother by helping the community fight the thing that claimed his life.

A Carthage family hopes to honor the memory of a fallen brother by helping the community fight the thing that claimed his life.
Jennifer Cartright, Carthage, said addiction killed her brother, Robert Brett Mountjoy, on Aug. 5, 2016, and she hopes to bring the community together in an effort to battle.
She and her family are pulling together experts in a town-hall style meeting at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 28, at the Carthage Water & Electric Community Room, 627 W. Centennial Ave.
Cartright said the meeting is titled “Solving the Addiction Crisis,” and will discuss two questions:
• What us your role in solving the addiction crisis?
• What can we do as a community to solve the addiction crisis?

A public discussion
“We're working with several people in the community, but our family is hoping to start a program here in Carthage for recovery support services,” Cartright said. “I lost my older brother a year ago, almost exactly, to a drug overdose, and we just wanted to take something painful and turn it into something meaningful, hopefully. We wanted to do this town hall as a way to get some ideas on how we can better serve the community for both the families and the people with addiction problems.”
Cartright said as of Aug. 31, she had at least three doctors and two judges scheduled to attend the event to help answer questions anyone might have about addiction.
She said opioid addiction is in the news now and it happens to be the addiction that led to her brother's death, but she hopes to talk about other forms of addiction.
“We want to cover addiction to drug and alcohol, mainly,” Cartright said. “He had a long struggle with opioid addiction. That's the part of addiction that's really epidemic proportion, opioid addiction, but we don't want to just focus on that. In our area we have a large number of people addicted to meth also. I think that all addiction problems, whether it is overeating, or gambling, which is something we deal with in this area also, can be helped with the basic things we learn about addiction, with just a little tweaking.”

Opioid addiction
Opioid addiction in Missouri is especially problematic, according to Jasper County Sheriff Randee Kaiser, because Missouri is the only state in the nation that doesn't have a state-wide prescription drug monitoring program.
People who might have trouble obtaining opioid pain killers in surrounding states because those purchases are recorded in their drug monitoring program will come to Missouri and get them more easily.
The Jasper County Commissioners are considering joining a prescription drug monitoring program hosted by St. Louis County.
Cartright, who says she to was addicted to opioid pain medication before recovering, said she's been fighting for a state-wide monitoring program for years.
“Opioids happened to be my drug of choice and also my brother's, and we will definitely talk about that,” she said. “I've been very active in getting the prescription drug monitoring program in Missouri, which we're still fighting for, but that will not be our only focus. We want it to be broader than that, we feel like there are a lot of people out there who happen to be struggling and that doesn't happen to be their drug of choice.”

Discussion format
Cartright said the plan is to open the discussion with talks by people affected by addiction, then the officials who are dealing with the problem will talk.
“We're going to have the story from four different viewpoints,” she said. “We'll have the child of an addict speak, we'll have an addict share their story, then a spouse and a parent. They will give a basic overview of what life is like living with either addiction or with addiction in the household. Then we will open it up to the panel, and we are still collecting people for the panel/ We have three doctors and two judges that have agreed to be on the panel, and we're looking for more.”
Cartright said she hopes the different viewpoints will spur continued discussion and help bring out ideas on how to deal with addiction.

Reducing the stigma
She also said she's hoping to bring out ideas to help addicts who seek help, go through an in-patient program, then are released.
“We're looking very closely at peer to peer recovery, which is a newer philosophy in addiction support where people are paired with people who have had some recovery time as a guide through the early stages of recovery support,” Cartright said. “What normally happens is someone goes to treatment, and we're always happy when someone reaches out to get help, but then after that short period of time they're in treatment, 28 or 30 days, sometimes less, then they're just turned out. And unless they go seeking a 12-step program, if they don't search those things out, then they're just left to their own devices and more times than not, they go back to their old addiction.
Cartright said a 12-step program has helped her fight her addictions.
“A 12-step program saved my life,” she said. “We're hoping that this is just going to try to get the conversation going. Hopefully if it's a success it won't be the last town hall or information session we have. I think that it's important that we work toward lessening the stigma that is placed on addiction and show that recovery is possible and that people can become and return to being successful, productive members of society.”