Members of the Highland County Drug Abuse Coalition are seeking data from local individuals from various walks of life regarding the prevalence of drug abuse here.
At the group’s monthly meeting Thursday, coalition Prevention Committee member and local nonprofit employee Danielle Poe said she and other committee members have been gathering data to develop a comprehensive strategic plan for the coalition.
As previously reported, the plan is funded by a nearly $1 million grant recently awarded to local nonprofit REACH for Tomorrow by the Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services Board, and will provide the coalition with specific action steps for curbing drug abuse here.
Poe, who works for REACH, said before the plan is drafted the committee must determine the scope of drug abuse in Highland County.
Much of the data being collected is drawn from a recent survey of Highland County students on substance abuse, according to Heather Gibson, president of the coalition and CEO of REACH.
The survey collected enough data to fill more than 300 pages, Poe said last month. It includes a wealth of vital statistics on drug abuse here, according to Poe, as well as some startling numbers — an “alarming” amount of local students reported abusing substances such as alcohol and tobacco as early as age 13, she said, adding that students in the same age range reported the lowest amount of harm perception when it comes to substance abuse.
Gibson said on Thursday that additional students were interviewed in local schools during after-prom activities.
“The responses would shock you,” Gibson said, including the number of students who said they had been sexually abused, which means they are at a higher risk for entering patterns of drug abuse and prostitution later in life, she said.
Poe encouraged members of the coalition and the public to fill out the REACH for Tomorrow community assessment survey, which asks a number of questions regarding perception of drug abuse, treatment and prevention in Highland County. An online version of the survey can be found at www.reachfortomorrowohio.org.
Poe said the committee will be done gathering data in mid-June. The deadline for the plan’s completion is July 1.
In another matter, Poe said the coalition was recently recognized at a gathering of drug abuse prevention coalitions in Cincinnati. According to Poe, the group lauded Highland County’s coalition for being exceptionally active and robust.
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.