What the United Way can do to help reduce youth substance abuse
Oct 27,1999. updated 01/19/00
Much of the problems I see within the county and that cause substance
abuse are external related. There's not much we can do about divorce, schools,
aggressive marketing and advertizing of alcohol and tobacco companies,
NAFTA and the huge resultant increase in drug availability, the effects
of the media and various other influences. So our hands are really tied
behind our backs. There's a couple of things though that we can do that
will help minimize the problem.
Continue to support programs that provide youth activities, nurture the
family and help our communities be better places to live.
We need a central organization that focuses exclusively on substance abuse.
Charlotte used to have one called the Drug Education Center. They
provided a walk-in facility that anyone can go into and talk about
substance abuse. They provided information and a referrel service. I thought
this was very helpful though it was too late for my son.
An advocacy center for reducing substance abuse. Prepare, administer
and compile annual surveys to find out what substances are being abused.
Be a resource that brings together groups for regular meetings to discuss
SA related issues. Study the effectiveness of the principal groups involved
with SA. Just how effective is law enforcement, the schools, courts and
mental health agencies in reducing SA? Are they up to date and utilitizing
the best practices and procedures that are available? In short, we need
someone to call these groups on the carpet when they are not doing the
best job possible. A case in point is the county schools substance abuse
policy. They suspend students out of school for ten days. That is terribly
wrong and actually encourages substance abuse to continue. I have urged
them to no avail to change this policy. During the time when this was under
discussion even the Salisbury Post came in an urged them to adopt this
change. So what happens? NOTHING!! and nothing will until another
kid like Michael Eidson dies. We need an Adovocate that is going
to keep pressure on the schools and other groups to make positive change.
Something has to change on treatment availability. There may be some de-tox
beds available in Rowan county but it is crucially important for them to
be ready when you have a kid that's ready for treatment. There should be
no waiting time. I know with my son that if I had understood addiction
better than I did, I would have kept looking around for more treatment
facilities rather than accept the standard response "Well to get into this
facility...the kid must have been thru de-tox(5 days off drugs). Currently
our waiting list is 2 weeks" Detox also needs to be a heck of alot
cheaper than the $800 a day that hospitals like Mercy charge.
Some sort of county wide group/coalition whose main focus is the reduction
of substance abuse. Cadca is a good
example that some communities have utilized. This
article from N.J. is a pretty good idea too- a drug summit. Also,
this in Montana garnered $800,000 of fed money and what appears to
be a viable program administrated by the United Way.
There is more but if we could tackle the above, we would put a major dent
in SA problems