Fighting the drug problem from all directions

The Coalition for a Drug Free Adams County meets the second Thursday of each month at the Adams County Regional Medical Center. (Photo by Alisa Mason) 

Coalition for a Drug Free Adams County hosts monthly meetings – 

By Mark Carpenter – 

It’s no secret that the drug problem has permeated all segments of society in Adams County. Fighting that problem is the agenda for the Coalition for a Drug Free Adams County, formed a few years ago to help attack the drug issue, and attack it in a variety of ways.
The Coalition meets the second Thursday of each month at the Adams County Regional Medical Center, working towards a goal of connecting available community resources and organizations to prevent drug use and support recovery. The group consists of representatives from several sectors of the community, including but not limited to counselors, law enforcement, pastors, business leaders and professionals, parents, grandparents, and concerned citizens.
The Coalition is chaired by Randy Chandler, with Danielle Poe serving as Vice-Chair, and the group is divided into sub-committees, each with their own chairperson. Each of those groups will report monthly to the coalition as a whole, beginning the process of creating community plans of attack. Those sub-committees are:
•  Harm Reduction (chaired by Bev Mathias): Concentrates on mechanisms to reduce the impact the drug epidemic has on the community, such as overdoses, Hepatitis C, and HIV, while striving to educate the community on referral resources.
• Supply Reduction (formerly chaired by Chief David Benjamin): Comprised of those who seek who to reduce the influx of drugs into the community by monitoring, securing and disposing of prescription medications properly while encouraging cooperation with law enforcement to reduce supply and enforce current drug offense laws.
• Prevention (chaired by Danielle Poe): Focuses on education the community on the effects of drugs and supporting Coalition work to prevent substance abuse.
• Treatment (chaired by Chandra Culver): Concentrates on recovery for addicts through residential treatment, outpatient services, medication-assisted treatment, recovery supports for individuals and their loved ones, while increasing the use of substance abuse screenings by physicians.
• Advocacy (chaired by Rhonda Burton): Motivates people to become involved either through obtaining funding sources to support treatment or lending their expertise, while generating public support to overcome barriers to any of the components of the community plans.
The Coalition held their most recent meeting on Thursday, Aug. 9 with a full agenda and seven members present. All of the sub-committees presented their monthly reports and a number of items were discussed, including the group’s Street Smart program, which will be presented at the North Adams schools on Oct. 18 to both the teaching staff and the local community, including vendors and resource tables.
“Street Smart is a drug education program,” said Chandler in an e-mail to the Defender. “The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office created Operation Street Smart in 202 as a way to take community-oriented policing to a new level. Street Smart is a collaborative effort between D.A.R.E. and the Special Investigations Unit, which is the undercover narcotics branch of the Sheriff’s Office. The goal of Street Smart is to provide current and up-to-date narcotics information on trends, terminology, paraphernalia, and physiological effects to those individuals who deal with today’s youth on a daily basis.”
The group also discussed the successful use of their “Hidden in Plain Sight” program at the Adams County Fair, which was a simulation of a child’s bedroom with possible signs of drug abuse there to show how difficult those signs can sometimes be to spot by parents. Also on the agenda was the possibility of using teens from each local high school as part of the coalition’s efforts.
Chandler also announced at the meeting that the group was receiving a two-year $100,000 QRT (Quick Response Team) grant, which Chandler also explained in his e-mail.
“Our QRT program is being funded by FRHE (Funders Response to the Heroin Epidemic), which is a collaboration of private funders dedicated to ending the Greater Cincinnati region’s opioid and heroin epidemic. The QRT Team is made up of law enforcement, EMS, treatment providers, and Care Coordination. These entities are working to initiate the program which will begin when we receive the first check next month. The QRT’s role is to counsel overdose victims during their recovery window, the 72 hours immediately following life-threatening drug overdoses when users are thought to be more open to accepting help.”
“The hope is to make a personal connection with with these individuals and provide an opportunity for a change of direction in their current path. This is just one step in the Coalition’s community plan.”
You can find out more about the group by visiting their Facebook page, “Coalition for a Drug Free Adams County.” The group’s next meeting will be on Thursday, Sept. 13 in the second floor Conference Room at the ACRMC.