Abbe Lackmeyer, the project manager for Miami University’s Recovery Housing Project, spoke to the Highland County Drug Abuse Coalition at their general meeting Thursday. Lackmeyer said Miami University is working on the Recovery Housing Project in partnership with Interact for Health, an independent foundation that aims to improve health for people living in the region around Cincinnati, which includes 20 counties in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.
“There are some counties we work with where there are absolutely no houses in the county yet,” Lackmeyer said. “Basically, [the Recovery Housing Project is] a gap analysis needs assessment to find out what the state of recovery housing is in each county, what recovery housing looks like, and what it needs to be.”
Through the project, Lackmeyer said her Miami University team and Interact for Health hope to develop a database of recovery housing resources available in communities throughout the 20 counties, which include Adams, Brown, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Hamilton, Highland and Warren counties in Ohio. The database will be compiled out of information from a survey, Lackmeyer said.
She, her team and Interact for Health also hope to use the information they gather to help inform policy changes and to make sure funding gets to the communities that need it most. Lackmeyer said they plan to use focus groups from each county to gather this information.
”Interact for Health wants this information to help them understand what’s going on, so they can have an influence on policy change at different levels — state, regional, local,” Lackmeyer said. “Also, Interact for Health funds a lot of programs. I cannot promise any funding because I don’t sit at any of those tables, but this will give them some information if there are certain areas that could use some funding.”
Lackmeyer said the report on their findings is due in January.
She has scheduled two focus groups to help gather information on Highland County’s recovery housing. If you’re someone who refers individuals to recovery housing, someone in recovery, someone with a family member in recovery or any combination of the above, Lackmeyer and her team invite you to join one of their focus groups. One group will meet on Friday, Nov. 8 at noon at the REACH for Tomorrow office in Greenfield, located at 132 S. Washington St. The other focus group will meet Tuesday, Nov. 12 at 6:45 p.m. in the meeting room of the Hillsboro library, located at 10 Willettsville Pike. Lackmeyer estimated that focus group meetings will take around an hour. Food will be provided, and each attendee will receive a $25 gift card. Spots are limited, so those interested must RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Healing Highland event this weekend
Kim Davis, the treatment navigator for the Highland County Probation Department, said that Healing Highland, a Hope for Highland event, will take place at the Common Ground Community Church on Saturday, Oct. 26 from 3-9 p.m. The church is located at 7406 Mad River Rd. in Hillsboro. Davis said the event is a great way for the community to get together and show support for those in recovery. The event also provides education and resources for family members of those dealing with addiction.
“A lot of times, we’ll have families who come to these events who aren’t sure what to do or how to help a family member who’s struggling with addiction,” Davis said. “Hope for Highland has been able to bridge that gap and show these folks where the resources are as far as outpatient, in-patient and residential counseling.”
Davis said representatives from three or four different treatment centers, as well as from the drug court program, will be at the event on Saturday. It is free and open to the public and will also include food, face painting, a bouncy house and music, Davis said.
Updates on PAX program
Highland County Court of Common Pleas Judge Rocky Coss asked Bill Showman, the prevention and evaluation coordinator for the Paint Valley Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health (ADAMH) Board, for an update on the PAX Good Behavior Game program. The PAX program is set of classroom strategies that develop self-regulation for students by reinforcing good behaviors and discouraging bad behaviors, according to its website. Showman said schools in this area that have participated in training are focusing on applying the program to kindergarten through third grade, though the program can be adapted for students up to grade 12. Showman said there’s even a community component that he’d love to implement one day.
Showman said Fairfield and Lynchburg-Clay elementary schools have teachers trained in the PAX program. He said the ADAMH board is attempting to contract a PAX partner, who would spend five hours a week working with teachers to help them run the program.
When Coss asked whether or not the Greenfield and Hillsboro school districts were participating, Showman said, “Greenfield, to date, has not shown any interest. At Hillsboro, there are about six teachers trained. With Hillsboro, it’s more so a matter of securing funding. Greenfield just hasn’t bitten onto it yet, but I’ll reach out to them again. I just think that they had other things going on.”
Some funding is available through the Paint Valley ADAMH Board and the PAX program, Showman said, but funding for this year has already been allocated.
Coss stated that, in his opinion, prevention works best when programs like PAX are implemented early on at the elementary-school level.
“When we talk about prevention in people in their teens or 20s or 30s, we’re talking about ‘reactive.’ We’re not talking about prevention,” Coss said. “I just really feel that this is one of the best proposals I’ve seen come down the road in years in terms of actually doing something in the public schools.”
Wisdom from the streets
Creed Culbreath shared with the coalition two stories, which are part of a series of stories he calls “Wisdom from the Streets.” These stories, Culbreath said, come from interventional visits the Quick Response Team (QRT) makes in the community.
One of the stories, he said, had taken place since the coalition’s previous meeting on Sept. 26.
“We had gotten a call through our social media outreach that there was a homeless person in Greenfield described as somebody who looked like they were dead but still walking,” Culbreath said. “We got a description, we had a scheduled appointment, he did not show up.”
Culbreath and other members of QRT, including QRT call coordinator Heath Stratton, went looking for the man in the woods behind a public park, where he was reported to be living, Culbreath said. When they caught up with him, Culbreath said that when the man was young, he had served time in prison, during which he was raped. After he left prison, the man began to use drugs.
“When we got the call to try to find him, he was using fentanyl,” Culbreath said. “The drug abuse caused his condition to deteriorate to where he wasn’t wanted at home. Eventually, his health weakened to the point where he could not hold a job. Finally, he was unable to protect himself. He had been recently mugged and beaten rather severely for ten dollars.”
Culbreath said that the man has since found treatment.
“It’s one thing to see the news stories and documentaries about the homeless in L.A. and San Francisco. It’s another when you’re seeing residents of your own county who are truly homeless,” Creed said. “I really have not yet found the words to describe what I felt when I met these folks. They were somewhat guarded about their community, but when they knew what Heath and I were there to do, they were very appreciative and took our cards.”
The next Highland County Drug Abuse Coalition general meeting will be on Dec. 12 from noon to 1 p.m. The public is welcome to attend.
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.