The Highland County Drug Abuse Prevention Coalition held a monthly meeting Wednesday in Hillsboro to discuss current efforts and coordination of local social service agencies in the fight against substance abuse and addiction.
Paint Valley Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health (ADAMH) Services Board Manager for Prevention and Evaluation Bill Showman recapped the prevention service efforts of his agency within Highland County schools for the past year.
He said 600 students in Greenfield from grades 6-9 attended anti-drug presentations titled “Too Good for Drugs.” Four hundred and seventy-three Hillsboro students in grades 6-12 attended the presentation, and 73 tenth-graders at Fairfield High School attended the presentation.
Showman said the ADAMH board provided trainings from the Paxis Institute about children’s’ behavior to 85 new teachers in five counties, including Highland. Forty new teachers in the counties participated in Pax Heroes training, an advanced training that assists teachers in working with children who have more advanced behavior problems.
“It just teaches them increased strategies and what types of behaviors to look for and how to address those and move beyond that,” said Showman.
Coalition member Creed Culbrealth, during his update about the coalition’s Quick Response Team, lamented that providing services for long-term substance abusers has become challenging.
“What you’re seeing on the people in cases we’re called in on are individuals who have been on high-octane alcohol, psychostimulants — primarily meth and opioids — seven to 15 years, and they survived it because they had a network or at least some caring family and friends around them, progressive-minded law enforcement like our probation office and a number of our law enforcement agencies in the county,” he said.
Culbreath said financial constraints can make it difficult for substance abusers to recover from their addiction. “Unfortunately, they have come to this situation in their life where the insurance companies, and I include governmental as well as commercial, are pressuring the hospitals and other providers to detox everybody at home,” he said.
Culbreath said a large number of trained volunteers and people in the recovery community who are willing and able to help addicts without the risk of going into relapse themselves are needed to stem the tide of drug addiction.
“What I’m seeing is that Washington is not coming to the rescue,” said Culbreath. “In my opinion, we’re going to need a type of care that no insurance company is going to pay for and the federal government is not going to sanction.”
Showman agreed that the current landscape of the drug epidemic is formidable. “Right now, yeah, it’s pretty bleak, but we’ve also come such a long way in just five or six years as well,” he said.
The coalition discussed the fourth annual Recovery Celebration dinner hosted by ADAMH to honor substance abuse advocates and champions of the year to be held at Bell Manor in Chillicothe from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22. The keynote speaker will be Sam Quinones, the author of “Dreamland” and “The Least of Us.”
Possible themes for Red Ribbon week celebrations in Highland County schools were discussed during the meeting. Red Ribbon Week, occurring Oct. 23 through Oct. 31, is an alcohol, tobacco and other drug and violence prevention awareness campaign that began as a tribute to fallen DEA special agent Enrique Camerena in 1985.
Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.