PARRISH - Many people are used to seeing the smiling, affable David Jones, who has been a positive face for the Capstone Rural Health Center.

However, behind the scenes, officials note Jones has also had a positive serious side as well, serving as a administrator and being responsible for advances in dealing with opioid abuse, including support groups, including one in the Walker County Jail. His vision has also been credited with helping to get a one-year, $200,000 planning grant to combat opioid use disorder in Walker County,"

"Anytime you see something about substance use disorder getting done in Walker county, say a little prayer thanking God for David Jones at Capstone Rural Health, because I doubt very seriously if any of this would have happened without him leading the way," one official recently emailed to the Daily Mountain Eagle.

For his part, Jones noted in a recent interview that substance abuse is Walker County's number one problem, affecting not just one person in a family but the entire family.

"We're working with about nine partners in the area to come up with a rehab, recovery and prevention strategy for Walker County, particularly the northern part of Walker County in three Census tracks around Eldridge and Carbon Hill. But we have already started some of those services with our counselors and with trying to foster high-quality support groups in the community," Jones said. "We want people to see some hope and to see people care, and buy into this."

He said the clinic works with a number of programs and agencies for that problem.

Jones - a member of Desperation Church who in his youth wanted to be a doctor on the mission field - today wishes "for churches to open their doors to our patients, to folks who do not feel comfortable going into churches to get services that they may volunteer to help somebody with," such as power bill assistance. He noted the Walker Area Community Foundation has been very supportive.

He wants to "rally around the hearts that have substance abuse, to take out our own stigmas and opinions, and look at it from a broader perspective, to invest in high-quality individuals. The method is not to be short-minded in our viewpoints of options for treatment. For instance, for medicine for substance abuse, we wouldn't give methadone, but we do some Suboxone," as well as Vivitrol.

He said some churches might only say to "let God take care of it" with no other action, which is hard to make work on those words alone.

"I don't mean to say this in a non-Christian way, but a drug addict is confused. They've been preached to. They've been abused by people," he said. "Sometimes they need rest, and they need it in a way that takes our normal thinking out of it."

He said repeated incarcerations are not effective, either, in treatment.

"What does it do?" he asked. "I don't think anyone should be excused for their crimes, but if we could set that aside until we get the patient more whole, then I think they could start paying their child support and restitutions in a little bit better manner. I know that is debatable, but if we could just reduce our stigma just a little bit and the way we look at the world, and notice what other societies or cities and counties are doing that are more effective than what we are doing here and to be open minded, that would be great."

He said the first priority to work on the drug problem is to take out the high-level dealers, although he noted "candy doctors" whose prescriptions worsened the problems and "pill mills" have been on the decline.