The Highland County Drug Abuse Prevention Coalition has approved a five-part community plan to battle the local drug epidemic.
Heather Gibson, the coalition chairperson, said the five parts of the plan are loosely modeled after other organizations with the main difference being the addition of an advocacy plan.
The coalition was established to lead the county in providing and promoting opportunities for all citizens to become active in the reduction of substance abuse and assist in the efforts of re-entry. It meets from noon to 1 p.m. the fourth Thursday of each month at the North High Business Center in Hillsboro.
The meetings are open to the public and Gibson said the usual attendance is around 30 to 40 people.
“We’ve been meeting for a while and now we feel like the wheels are turning,” Gibson said. “We finally got to the point where we have enough people on board where we can attack the issues as a county, because the issues are bigger than any one agency.”
The five areas of the plan are: harm reduction, supply reduction, prevention, treatment, and advocacy.
Following is the an abbreviated description on each part of the plan:
1 – Harm reduction concentrates on mechanisms to reduce the impact the epidemic has on the community. This component of the plan will focus on educating the community on referral resources, promoting the use of prescription medication drop boxes, educating physicians about the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System, alternate prescribing guidelines; and naloxone or Narcan distribution. The 2017 strategies for implementing this portion of the plan are:
• Naloxone distribution and 911 exemptions – Access to naloxone should be provided for other first responders, public agencies, and other individuals likely to come into contact with a drug user. In the short term, naloxone should be made available to: city police departments, high schools, social services workers, home visitors, counselors, and others. Educate law enforcement and the public on new Good Samaritan laws. Governor Kasich signed the law in June 2016. It grants immunity from prosecution for someone calling 911 to report a drug overdose.
• Early intervention and treatment for addicted mothers who are expecting – To form a partnership between OB/GYN providers, FRS Counseling, Highland County Help Me Grow, and Highland County Child Protection Services to identify expectant mothers that are struggling with addition issues and provide them with an early intervention that could prevent the need for a removal of the baby at birth. By focusing services at the earliest point of intervention, the community as a whole could be impacted by reducing the number of children in care and the associated costs and losses to the community.
• SBIRT – Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment – Work with community partner agencies to develop/identify training materials and resources, identify health care providers that are interested in participating, and provide training and other resources to those interested providers.
• Syringe exchange – Reach out to existing syringe exchange programs in Cincinnati and Columbus to determine if a Highland County location might potentially be included in their route. Arrange a community forum on syringe exchange as a harm reduction strategy. Invite law enforcement, judicial branch representatives, probation officers, health care providers, social service providers, and other interested parties to discuss the feasibility of this program in Highland County.
• Health care education for professionals – The Harm Reduction Committee and other individuals will develop a letter or pamphlet to health care providers that identifies current county drug use trends, the health impacts of drug use, signs and symptoms of drug abuse, and other resources that health care providers may find of interest in addressing drug use among their patients.
2 – Supply reduction seeks to reduce the influx of drugs into the community by monitoring, securing and disposing of prescription medications properly, encouraging collaboration with law enforcement to reduce supply, and enforcing opiate prescription regulation as well as current drug offense laws. The 2017 strategies are:
• Increase number of prescription med drop boxes in law enforcement agencies or the community.
• Coordinate training for law enforcement on investigative techniques for drug trafficking by utilizing BCI and Street Smart for law enforcement. Request law enforcement agencies to pledge to focus mandated training on drug investigating.
• Secure funding for prescription lock boxes for the public to purchase at a reduced rate to decrease diversion to the streets.
• Educate the public on international source of drugs information to local sources via Drug Enforcement Agency information available to the public and reporting activity through use of tip lines.
• Petition and support government and military intiatives that close the borders, allow the military to destroy drugs, defund the foreign aid and foreign government corruption, initiate action against the true sources, provide funding for addiction services, fund departments trying to stop the flow of drugs into our community.
• Neighborhood watch programming by establishing areas with high activity in conjunction with law enforcement, holding town hall meetings in those areas, and utilizing existing resources to train communities on neighborhood watch programs.
3 – Prevention focuses on educating the community on the effects of drugs and by supporting coalition work to prevent substance abuse. The 2017 strategies for the plan are:
• Coordinate community events. Take Back Our County: Hope for Highland and Hope Over Heroin are county-based events that will promote community connectedness and collaboration. These events are geared to raising awareness, education and prevention, as well as promoting treatment, wellness and recovery. Take Back Our County will also host a 5K Glow Run with other events on Oct. 1 to raise financial support for Hope Over Heroin, which costs $15,000. Drug awareness events will be held three times per year at locations throughout the county to address drug use in the community, new trends, strategies, etc. Drug Prevention Coalition Community Resource Fair in Greenfield – collaborate with Greenfield businesses, organizations, vendors, churches, etc. to have a resource fair at a central location to educate community members about resource availability.
• Grandma’s Girls – Partner with local churches to obtain other forms of community outreach such as newspaper articles. Pass out flyers at schools to middle school aged female students to encourage participation and get parent permission.
• Drug Free Clubs of America – Partner with local schools to see if this is something they would be interested in pursuing. Work with local businesses to donate “age appropriate” prizes for students who are negative on voluntary drug screens.
• Red Ribbon Week – Continue to support Highland County Red Ribbon Week activities through the schools, proclamations, newspaper articles, etc.
4 – Treatment concentrates on recovery for addicts through residential treatment, outpatient services, medication-assisted treatment, recovery support for individuals and their loved ones, and increasing the use of substance abuse screenings by physicians. The 2017 strategies for the plan are:
• Expand the awareness and availability of treatment services, as well as detox and supportive services to those in need by: Increasing awareness of all outpatient and inpatient treatment centers throughout the county and surrounding areas, increasing availability and awareness of Vivitrol, provide up-to-date list of support meetings and intake times for places such as FRS, Friel amd SPV.
• Distribute information to those who have experienced overdose and/or families of those who are addicted.
• Increase Support – Increase NA and AA meetings into smaller communities such as Leesburg, Lynchburg, Mowrystown, Rainsboro, Greenfield and RFL area. Increase family support groups for those dealing with addicts as well as those who have lost loved ones.
• Response Team – Comprised of law enforcement, counselors, EMTs and trained others that contact families or individuals after overdose is reported to distribute resource bags, offer assistance, and support and follow-up as needed.
• Community canvassing that targets high risk communities and areas that overdoses have been reported for door-to-door distribution of resource bags and to encourage community support and involvement.
5 – Advocacy motivates people to become involved either through obtaining funding sources to support treatment or lending their expertise, educating the community about opiate abuse, providing understanding of addiction as a health issue, and generating public support to overcome barriers to any of the components of the community plan. The 2017 strategies for the plan are:
• Educating the Community – Recruit presenters who will maintain contact with each other and with the trained presenters. Identify and secure audience interests, then identify times, dates and venues when the presentations can be delivered.
• Identify opportunities to promote drug awareness. Find ways to make the drug issues of our county personal. Identify the audience in which the promotions are targeted. This will help also identify the medium used and the events that could be created.
• Create memorandums of understanding with organizations who are 501c3 to be able to apply for grant funds and receive donations from individuals or fundraising opportunities.
For more information visit the coalition’s Facebook page.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.