Vest talks to business leaders about Addiction Prevention Coalition

HOOVER – Mike Vest, like so many others, has seen firsthand the havoc addiction can wreak on people and families.

Mike Vest, executive director of the Addiction Prevention Coalition, speaks at the Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Thursday, Oct. 17. (CONTRIBUTED)

Vest uses that experience in his role as executive director of the Addiction Prevention Coalition, he told attendees at the Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Thursday, Oct. 17, at the Hoover Country Club.

“I don’t have knowledge about; I lived it,” said Vest, who is also a member of the Shelby County Commission.

Vest’s father was an alcoholic who left his family, and Vest reconnected with him several years later when his father was homeless.

Vest said he asked what he could do for him, and his father said he had tried to gain residence at an apartment complex but been denied. Vest offered to make any rent payments his father missed but said his father did not miss a payment for the seven years he lived there.

“All he needed was a chance, and he wasn’t going to get a chance,” Vest said.

The Addiction Prevention Coalition tries to offer chances by connecting drug and alcohol abusers with organizations that can help.

“We’re not dope dealers—we’re hope dealers,” Vest joked.

Those in the grip of addiction must want help for themselves, Vest said he tells parents who call about their son or daughter.

“If you are calling, that means your daughter or son isn’t ready,” Vest said. “Recovery can be done if you want it.”

Among the Coalition’s efforts are peer-to-peer groups and the annual End Heroin Walk.

At this year’s walk, training will be offered on NARCAN, a nasal spray that can help reverse an opioid overdose.

Vest stressed that addiction to opioids can begin as early as middle school as children are prescribed pain medicine for sports injuries and wisdom teeth removal, for example.

Children face other obstacles that can impact the rest of their lives including vaping, Vest said and noted how addictive the substances can be and how easy and discreet they are to use in many cases.

Find more information at APCBham.org.