Lumbee Tribe uses MAT to fight drug addiction


PEMBROKE – Kevin Sampson would have died without the drug treatment program implemented by the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina.

The Pembroke man has been on the program for four months, after a six-year battle with drug addiction that resulted in two overdoses.

“For some people it might take longer, others less,” Sampson said. “I can’t believe where I’ve come from for the past four months.”

To combat the opioid epidemic among American Indians, the Lumbee Tribe implemented the MAT program in 2019 with the help of a $ 1.5 million grant from the Human Services Administration. Addiction and Mental Health Department of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to provide services over a three-year period. span. The program provides services to 63 members of the Lumbee Tribe in the Tribal Service Area of ​​Robeson, Cumberland, Scotland and Hoke counties each year.

“The Lumbee tribe recognized this was a crisis, an epidemic and has been for several years,” said Erika Locklear, program director.

“I’m glad we have a staff who work daily to write grants like the SAMHSA Grant, which is saving lives from opioid addiction in this county,” said Tribal President Harvey Godwin Jr.

The Lumbee Tribe has a great staff with compassion and empathy, he said. They know how to work with people with addiction issues and their efforts save over 60 lives a year.

“Through the COVID-19 pandemic, it is even more difficult to help addicted people,” Godwin said. “The Lumbee tribe is multi-faceted as we work to help people. I am very proud of our staff who work daily to help people, whether that is providing energy assistance, housing services such as rehabilitation, home ownership, down payment assistance, COVID-19 test or providing food to families.

The tribe’s efforts certainly affected Sampson’s family life.

“I can tell the joy in my mother’s voice now that I’m back,” he said. “She even made the statement ‘Boy, I thought you were going to die over there.'”

Early in life, people would describe Sampson as an “exceptional person,” he said. His “fall” led him to heroin and fentanyl.

“I broke my knee at work,” he said. “I went to the doctor and they started giving me painkillers… that’s where it started with me. It was my downfall.

Sampson said that because of the way drug addiction is viewed in movies and on television, people associate drug addiction with big cities.

“You’re like,” Dude, these people are pathetic. Bless their hearts, “then sitting there one night hits you like a ton of bricks” Hey, you do that stuff, “Sampson said.

Opioid addiction isn’t just about pills, Locklear said. This also includes drugs like heroin. So when people are looking for a way out, the MAT program is available to help them.

Some of the MAT services include support group sessions, individual and group counseling, and drug therapy. The goal is to implement treatments that help people with substance use disorders achieve and maintain meaningful and sustained recovery with lasting results.

When participants first enter the program, they undergo an assessment with the clinic and if they are eligible, they begin treatment. The services are free.

“During the day I’ll be calling my clients just to see how they’re doing, to make sure everything is going well for them,” said Heather Carter, MAT Program Coordinator. “Some people may have anxiety or depression, so I like to share different self-healing modalities that they can use. “

It could be a deep breath, a meditation, or just take off your shoes, sit by the river and be anchored, she said.

A graduate of the program was motivated to return to school and in May will graduate with an electrical degree, thanks to the program.

It’s stories like this that trigger feelings of “joy” for Carter.

“It’s a joy to my soul to see where they are when they come in and then see where they are at both, they get so much treatment and they begin their healing journey. It’s beautiful and it sucks me up, ”she said.

Sampson is now “back on track”, has a new job, insurance and is working to restore the trust he has lost with some of his family.

“It helps a lot when you feel like someone is in your corner,” Sampson said. “Jesus is the principal who is in our corner. It doesn’t matter what, but there are people who always care. There are people willingly, from the bottom of their hearts, in addition to a job who want to help people. I am so happy to have discovered this program.

To learn more about the MAT program, call 910-522-5055. The facility is located at 204 West Third St. in Pembroke.

Tomeka Sinclair can be contacted at [email protected] or 910-416-5865.


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