Highland County Drug Abuse Prevention Coalition unveils new community plan


The Highland County Drug Abuse Prevention Coalition on Thursday ratified its Community Plan, a document outlining strategic drug abuse prevention efforts in the county.

The plan, drafted by coalition members in the last several months, was funded by a portion of a nearly $1 million grant recently awarded to local nonprofit REACH for Tomorrow by the Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services Board.

The document includes specific action steps for the coalition’s main areas of focus: harm reduction, supply reduction, prevention, treatment and advocacy.

In the harm reduction portion of the plan, efforts concentrate on reducing the harmful affects of drug abuse, such as overdoses, hepatitis C and HIV. To that end, the plan includes continued distribution of naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of opioid overdose; a “stand-by syringe exchange plan” that would be implemented only if a public health emergency involving a blood-borne pathogen occurred; early intervention and treatment for mothers who are expecting; Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) programs for local service providers; healthcare education for health care providers; and mass education on the harms of drug abuse via radio, newspapers and other media.

The supply reduction portion of the plan focuses on reducing the influx of drugs into the community. That includes increasing prescription medical drop boxes; coordinating extra training for law enforcement; securing funding for prescription lock boxes for the public; educating the public on international drug sources; providing public support and funding advocacy for federal and military personnel who fight the drug trade abroad, and doing the same for local officials and officers; and instituting neighborhood watch programming in local communities.

The portion of the plan dealing with prevention focuses on education for the community and drug abuse prevention as a whole by disseminating brochures; creating community events for parents, youth and schools; and increasing the coalition’s social media presence to call the community to action.

The treatment portion of the plan concentrates on helping those addicted recover through residential treatment, outpatient services and medically assisted treatment. That includes expanding awareness and availability of treatment services; distributing recovery information; promoting additional self-help programs; creating quick-response teams, or groups of people who encourage those addicted to seek treatment; canvassing communities; developing training for service providers; developing a safe transportation network for those addicted; expanding housing opportunities; and solidifying partnerships with other groups.

The portion of the plan dedicated to advocacy includes a list of steps to motivate locals to become involved in curbing drug abuse.

As previously reported, the plan is informed by copious amounts of data collected by coalition members over the last several months.

Also Thursday, the coalition elected Gena Bates as its new president. Bates, a clinic director at the Scioto Paint Valley Mental Health Center, replaces Heather Gibson, CEO of REACH for Tomorrow.

Monica Baucher, the residential team leader at the Scioto Paint Valley Mental Health Center’s Lynn Goff Clinic in Greenfield, was elected vice president.

The Highland County Drug Abuse Prevention Coalition is a group of law enforcement officials, mental health and drug treatment service providers, people of faith and concerned citizens who meet monthly to exchange ideas on how to reduce drug abuse in Highland County.

The group meets at noon every fourth Thursday of the month in the main conference room at the North High Business Center.

The coalition can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HCDAPC.

Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.

Drug prevention group elects Bates new president

By David Wright


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