Smoky Mountain LME/MCO holds community gatherings every couple of months to promote discussion and transparency.

Smoky Mountain’s decision to cut mental-health providers meets objections

A WNC mental-health agency faced tough questions earlier this week about its decision to limit its publicly funded services to a select group of providers. Western North Carolina’s lead mental-health agency, Smoky Mountain LME/MCO, held a community forum Tuesday, June 23, that packed Asheville’s First Baptist Church. After a brief presentation by agency staff, a question-and-answer segment […]

NEW MOON: Modern day distillers in WNC are bringing the region's most-storied spirit into the 21st century. Photo by George Etheredge.

Bottled lightning: Appalachia­n moonshinin­g in the 21st century

Western North Carolina is now home to a growing number of craft distillers making legal moonshine. Blending traditional recipes with new technology and methods, these pioneers are bringing Appalachia’s most fabled and misunderstood product into the 21st century, changing cultural perceptions even as they adapt to shifting economic realities.

LIFELINES: A standard Naloxone kit (pictured here) can mean the difference between life and death during an overdose. The drug has had great success in preventing overdose fatalities in North Carolina. Photo courtesy Hadley Gustafson.

To the brink and back: Opioid abuse and treatment in WNC

Amid escalating use and abuse of opioids nationwide, the number of local narcotics-related overdoses has increased rapidly in recent years. The drug naloxone can temporarily suspend those drugs’ effects, and the Asheville metropolitan area leads the state in confirmed cases of opioid overdose reversal, according to the N.C. Harm Reduction Coalition.

RECLAIMING LIFE: After losing her husband at age 55, Donna Marie Todd created A Widow's Tale retreat to help other widows heal from the loss of a spouse. Photo courtesy of Donna Marie Todd

Widow’s Tale retreat leads to rediscover­y and recovery

When Donna Marie Todd’s husband died, she was 55. Bereavement counseling helped her begin to heal and understand her grief, but she found a lack of resources when she set out to rebuild her life. A professional storyteller, singer, writer, teaching artist and retreat leader from Black Mountain, she decided to create a one-day retreat for women — A Widow’s Tale.

Finding something lost: A sense of serenity and a connection to others are two of the things often lost in addiction, notes Craig White of First Step Farm. But those are also the very two things this farm-based recovery program seeks to grow.

Harvesting serenity: First Step Farms uses agricultur­e to overcome addiction

First Step Farms WNC is two farmsteads, both located on historic farmland in Candler. One site grows vegetable starts for small farms; the other grows flowers for weddings and school graduations. But the farms’ primary purpose goes beyond agriculture — the two sites are home to a substance abuse recovery program that uses farming to restore self-confidence in recovering addicts.