KNOX COUNTY — Members of the Gallia County Citizens for Prevention and Recovery attended a training to be able to bring a drug awareness and prevention program to Gallia County.
Members of the coalition traveled to Knox County on Dec. 13 to learn how to present and serve as a guide for the program “Hidden In Plain Sight.” The members who attended include law enforcement, faith leaders, court and school personnel as well as treatment providers and general community members.
Substance abuse rates are at an all-time high. A survey of rural Ohio counties shows that the average age of alcohol use in youth is 13.3 years old. Around 27 percent of youth reported smoking, and 44 percent of teens smoke marijuana according to statistics from Partnership for a Drug Free America. CPR recognizes these as “gateway drugs,” or drugs that, if used, may lead to using other drugs such as pills and heroin. The coalition has plans to conduct surveys of local youth in order to obtain statistics specific to Gallia County. It is felt that parents and other adults will find it more meaningful if they realize the information is specific to the youth in their own community. Gallia County’s numbers are likely not far from these, say CPR members.
CPR members claim Gallia has youth as young as 8-years-old in treatment for active substance use disorders. The coalition has a mission to try to prevent substance use and feels this program will be an asset in this effort. Early intervention is the key. If parents and caregivers are able to identify signs and signals of substance abuse, it can enable them to get their children help that can make a difference before an addiction is developed. Children who learn about the dangers of drug use at home are less likely to use drugs. A consistent message of disapproval of drug use is needed. Children who think their parents would disapprove of drug use are over 40 percent less likely to use. Parents must understand that addressing it once isn’t going to be as effective. The discussion about drugs needs to change as the youth ages. This is a primary prevention effort that is needed to help combat the epidemic we are facing. Prevention efforts can prevent future cases of addiction.
The Hidden In Plain Sight exhibit is an awareness program, geared toward adults (no youth are permitted to attend), is designed to educate them on things that they may find in their child’s room, book bag, or car that may be signs of substance use. The items may look innocent, and often not even out of place. This program will reveal how every-day items might be used in dangerous and illicit activity. Trained presenters, or guides, will walk adults though the interactive display of a teenager’s bedroom. Guides will call attention to common signs of in home substance abuse. The participants will receive educate on different types of substances of abuse, ways that youth use them and conceal the use. The guide will also provide resources for where to get help if you feel there is a problem with a youth. One goal of the exhibit is to initiate conversations between parents, grandparents, and caregivers with their children about how at-risk behaviors can lead to opioid addiction and other substance use disorders. It is noted that just because a youth has an item highlighted in the display in their room does not definitively mean the youth is using substances. This is where the conversation comes in.
An adult acknowledging the item could be a problem opens the door to inquire and talk with the youth about it as well as the dangers of substance abuse.
The program runs about an hour and a half in its entirety, but the coalition plans to work with requesting organizations and modify to audiences as needed. In other communities, this exhibit and program has been made available in schools, churches, libraries and other community organizations. It is the hope of the Gallia CPR that every organization and group possible will take advantage of it.
Coalition members, just recently being trained, are in the planning and building stages. Within the next few months they hope to collect local data for the presentation as well as gather the items needed to stage a mock bedroom. It is expected that the Gallia CPR Hidden in Plain Sight Exhibit will be available in the late spring, if not before. Future information and announcements will be made when it is ready for to be executed.
The Gallia Citizens for Prevention and Recovery is a drug prevention coalition and aims to be Gallia County’s first response to substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery. The group is comprised of individuals representing a number of entities in the community including nonprofits, behavioral health, health care, schools, law enforcement, faith groups and general community members who are concerned about substance abuse in Gallia County. Anyone with an interest in working to address this problem is encouraged to become involved. Information can be found on Facebook at at GCpreventionandrecovery. Gallia CPR meetings are held the second Monday of each month at noon at Holzer Medical Center. The next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 12 at noon and will be held in conference rooms A & B.
Submitted by Gallia Citizens for Prevention and Recovery.