By: Katie Sobiech
Last week, the Katie Couric Show, featured the topic of prescription drug addiction, bringing awareness to many.
Guests revealed how what starts as a doctor’s visit for pain or prescription medications can so easily spiral into heroin or other addictions, due to heroine being less expensive.
More and more attention is being brought to this issue, as well as the overall abuse of all kinds of drugs.
Whether it’s across the nation, or locally, coalitions are forming and people are coming together to bring awareness and find solutions to the drug issues plaguing our communities.
The Summit County Community Partnership (SCCP) is working hard locally to bring together community members with different areas of expertise, to share their knowledge and to develop plans to fight against this local drug habit.
The History of the Coalition
Darryl Brake“It all started in the late 80’s, early 90’s, when the President during that time had what they called ‘The War on Drugs”,” Darryl Brake, Executive Director of the Summit County Community Partnership, shared.
“This war on drugs had to do with how we were going to stop the advance of drug abuse and people getting addicted,” he continued.
Many things had been tried, but Brake says it didn’t seem to make much of a difference.
So, a massive survey was done by a number of agencies, and they all came up with the same conclusion that if you used a coalition, an assembly or gathering together of individuals from every aspect of society, including faith, business, law enforcement, social service, etc. the results were far better.
“Those are the systems our communities run on. Each individual brings expertise and knowledge from that system that others don’t know. They are able to share their challenges and successes with fighting drugs. The other systems draw things from that and it helps them,” Brake shared.
“The government decided if they could organize coalitions around the country they would be able to fight the drug problem more effectively, so they set out proposals and would fund communities that could prove in their grant submission that they were working together and ready to have a high-level, functioning coalition to fight the problem of drugs,” he continued.
Summit County’s Submission
Summit County submitted a proposal in 1990 which was approved and funded by 1991. The SCCP, the county’s drug abuse prevention coalition, was officially established.
Not long after that, Brake joined the faith and business committees.
The coalition then received a grant to set up, communicate and encourage businesses to address the drug problem in the workplace. They contracted Brake to set up “The Drug Free Workplace Program”.
In 1999, state and local government decided there needed to be a separate project addressing youth and alcohol abuse and addiction as well.
What They’re Working on Now
Brake says many organizations are publicly funded to do drug prevention work in the county. And probably an equal amount of other organizations do prevention work that don’t get pubic dollars.
“You have two groups doing the same thing that don’t always know about each other, don’t always know what each other is doing, and surprisingly may not even cross paths very often,” Brake said.
“A coalition is inclusive. We want all aspects of society – everybody – to be aware of what each other is doing, and work together when we can to fight the drug problem, to stop people from getting addicted or using,” he continued.
SCCP’s Project Coordinator and volunteers work on engaging all aspects of the community to keep them working together and being aware of each other.
“It’s very difficult to do,” Brake admitted.
Gathering Data to Create Change
SCCP is currently working on a strategic drug prevention plan.
“Right now we’re working on gathering all different kinds of data that has to do with drug abuse and drug activities in our county. Some of it is health data, law enforcement data, behavioral health data – all the data we can find, we’re pulling it together and gathering it right now as we speak,” Brake said.
“In the future we’re going to compile all of that data into a draft document that gives a very broad and inclusive picture of what the county’s drug problem looks like and what prevention looks like,” he continued.
They are currently in the process of recruiting people from all different segments of society to be a part of a strategic prevention planning team that will be guided through a process making use of this data.
“We’re going to get the information from the people on the front lines and administrative people. They’ll meet and this info will be gathered and boiled down to a strategic plan. It will paint a picture of what the drug problem looks like in our county from various avenues, vantage points. It will also have a list of recommendations of things that need to be done,” Brake said.
The group will review it, make changes and adjust it to what they’re comfortable with. The final report will then be publicized, including an implementation plan that will start by the year’s end.
This is just one of several projects that they have going on!
Stay tuned for next week’s story to find out what else they are doing to create awareness, to stand against drug abuse, and the simple steps that you can take to help, too.
For more information please visit: http://www.summitcountycommunitypartnership.org/