Painful Truth: Panel Discussion That Could Save Someone’s Life

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – “He thought he was snorting cocaine but it was cut with fentanyl,” says mom Debbie Dalton. Her son, Hunter, was 23-years-old. A UNC Charlotte grad. Working in Raleigh. He had, his mom says, an amazing life. “All these really good decisions Hunter made in his life, but the one bad decision he made was to use recreational drugs,” she says.

Hunter, his mom explains, wasn’t an addict and didn’t have a substance abuse disorder. He used drugs socially with friends. She says of the shock she felt when she got the call that her son had overdosed, “You know, it’s not you. Until it is.”

Hunter died December 4, 2016. Debbie says she is living a nightmare she can’t wake from. But she’s using her grief to power her purpose: to keep other families safe. She is on the road constantly with The #HDLife Foundation, warning people about the dangers of recreational drug use.

In 2018, she was with North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper as he signed the Opioid Response Act into law. And Tuesday night, she will sit on a panel with former Panthers players Muhsin Muhammad, John Kasay, Mike Rucker, and doctors, including Dr. Nady Hamid of OrthoCarolina.

“Studies have shown that somebody that’s taking prescription pain medication 3 months after a surgery, has a 50 percent chance of still being on that medication 5 years later, says Hamid.

Hamid says North Carolina has four of the top 25 worst cities for opioid abuse: Wilmington, Hickory, Jacksonville and Fayetteville.

He does point to a decrease in opioid related overdose deaths, and legislation aimed at restricting the number and type of opioid prescription patients can get. Hamid says, “Those are meaningful changes, but we’re still not where we need to be yet. ”

And that’s where Tuesday’s panel discussion, called “Painful Truth,” picks up. Dalton and Dr. Hamid say raising awareness is necessary to keep fighting opioid abuse. 600 people are expected to attend Tuesday’s event at Knight Theater at 6:30. Tickets are free, and available at the door.