Miller speaks to Hoover Chamber about Compact 2020

HOOVER – Compact 2020 Director Alan Miller spoke to Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon attendees on Thursday, June 15, about how the effort is combating drug abuse in Shelby County.

Miller, the chief assistant district attorney for Shelby County, said Compact 2020 is intended to “engage the full spectrum of substance abuse in Shelby County.”

“What we found is we had become silent,” Miller said. “We weren’t really communicating with each other.”

Miller, a graduate of Tulane University and the University of Alabama School of Law who has lived in Chelsea since he joined the district attorney’s office in 2003, said the motivation behind Compact 2020 was a spike in overdose deaths related to the ongoing opioid epidemic.

Overdose deaths in the county have fallen from 57 in 2015—which was fifth most in Alabama—to 36 in 2016 and 10 so far in 2017, but Miller said the decrease is likely due to the availability of Narcan, which can treat narcotic overdoses.

“I’m afraid we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg,” Miller said. “There are people getting [Narcan] day after day.”

Compact 2020 has three categories of responsibilities: investigations of adolescents, compliance checks and community engagement.

Though investigations of youths may make people uneasy, Miller said the approach is necessary to combat drug use and is not focused on punishment.

“This is about getting these people help,” he said.

Compact 2020 partners with parents, schools, school resource officers, K-9 officers and more in an effort to establish “community-based prevention.”

Opioids are not the only drugs that cause problems, Miller said.

Miller said the marijuana industry has made headway.

“We need to be concerned about that,” he said. “Our children are under the impression that’s a safe drug for them to use because that’s the culture we live in.”

And constant connectivity through social media and other technology causes stress that people seek to relieve through use of Xanax and other prescription medications, Miller said.

“They are constantly on stage pretending to be someone that they’re not,” Miller said.

Compact 2020 allows people to submit anonymous tips.

“We’re pushing this to kids because we’re convinced they have seen the death and destruction and want to be part of the solution,” Miller said.

Shelby County Manager Alex Dudchock followed Miller with examples of local students who died from overdoses.

“It’s everywhere,” Dudchock said.

The luncheon was sponsored by Medical West, an affiliate of UAB Hospital, and was held at the Hoover Country Club.