Starling discusses ‘Dorchester Goes Purple’

Mike Starling

CAMBRIDGE — Mike Starling spoke Aug. 6 to the county council, regarding the “Dorchester Goes Purple” anti-opioid abuse program. Mr. Starling, who is the chairman of the public awareness campaign, said the organization is working to help the public to gain a more complete understanding of the issue of substance abuse and addiction, and in particular, the opioid epidemic.

The opium-based family of drugs includes heroin, morphine, and many legally prescribed painkillers. Increased use of legal opioids has been cited as a contributing factor in addiction and illegal use – that is, when the prescription expires, some individuals turn to underground sources.

“Dorchester Goes Purple” comprises a wide range of contributing organizations. “We’re pleased that the Dorchester County Sheriff is the official sponsor, along with the Chamber [of Commerce],” Mr. Starling said. “We have team members from the Office of the State’s Attorney, Emergency Services, Local Management Board, the Health Department, Public Schools, Eastern Shore Crisis Response Services, Vision Quest, and a number of private businesses, including the Hyatt, Whitten Insurance and Merrill Lynch.”

He told the council that the latest statistics confirm the need for a public-awareness campaign, saying, “2,385 Marylanders died from alcohol or drugs in 2018 and almost 90 percent of those were from opioids.”

On average in Dorchester, nearly one life a month is lost to opioids. Not that it’s only a local phenomenon. “Across the nation, someone tries opioids for the first time every 15 seconds,” Mr. Starling said, adding that addiction can occur in as little as five days.

The campaign’s slogan this year is, “Awareness Starts at Home,” with “home” being a broad term meaning any place where a conversation about the dangers of the drugs can place. “It all kicks off with a concert on Aug. 30 at the amphitheater at Sailwinds Park at 6 p.m.,” he said.

Through September, businesses will decorate their establishments in purple, and will distribute materials to help remind the public of the need to fight abuse and addiction. Mr. Starling, who operates WHCP Radio 101.5, said the local station will air personal stories in September, as well as a “Purple Platter,” feature, of songs mentioning the color.

A boat parade is also in the works, planned for the end of the month, as is the idea of a “Purple Pulpit Sunday on Sept. 8,” during which pastors can speak to their congregations about the issue.

To learn more about the campaign, visit www.dorchestergoespurple.com.

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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