There has been a considerable amount of work being done somewhat “behind the scenes” regarding the issue of substance abuse in the community. This remains a large concern for many of our community members and employers. The following is an update to share what has been happening with this matter.
At the last Drug-Free Roundtable in June we talked about a number of issues continuing to plague our community as we work to reduce substance abuse, but more importantly, we talked about ideas and action plans that we could implement to help rid our schools, neighborhoods and workforce of this parasite. During the meeting we also touched on a key area, that I believe warrants briefly reinforcing, of where to turn for help when you’re aware of someone struggling with a substance abuse issue. Our local Swanson Center is a great resource for programs, information or just initial direction without any need for fear of consequences following the contact. The Swanson Center can be reached at www.swansoncenter.org or 219-873-2381.
After the Round table, my Counter-drug Task Force (CTF) met to discuss how we can implement and connect the programs and ideas that were discussed at the meeting. Based on the feedback provided at the Roundtable, we keyed in on three different action areas:
1. Connecting mentors with mentees and providing any requested training
2. Communicating the anti-drug message through media marketing efforts
3. Providing information sessions for students and parents for issues surrounding and contributing to substance abuse
As an update, here is some of the work that is going on behind the scenes and where we can use your help:
1. Mentoring: Mentoring is proven to improve self-esteem, keep young people in school, and help reduce challenges with youth substance abuse. We need your help as a mentor. We don’t want to direct anyone to any particular mentor organization since we have a number of great programs throughout the community that serve a variety of different needs, but since we know it can be overwhelming to try and research these organizations to find the best fit for you, we wanted to find a single location for you to find opportunities to get involved. The Indiana Mentoring Program (IMP) is an excellent resource, and by signing up at their website, www.abetterhour.org, they can help direct you to the local mentoring program that best fits your time availability and interest area. Additionally, any mentoring organizations that would like to be included in their database so you can receive volunteers through their network, should also sign up at www.abetterhour.org. This is a great way to get involved and not only help reduce substance abuse in the community, but play a role in changing a child’s life.
2. Communication: The CTF is in the process of developing a slogan or a brand to associate with a media marketing campaign to spread the message of not only the dangers of substance abuse, but where to turn for help when you encounter it. The youth members of the CTF are playing a large role in directing the creation of the brand as well as the target venues to reach a youth audience and have done a fantastic job of taking the initiative and leadership roles in impacting the community through this effort.
3. Information Sessions: The La Porte Community School Corporation, La Porte County Drug-Free Communities Coalition, and Purdue North Central nursing students are collaborating to provide a health fair to La Porte High School Students in the fall and spring. The fall fair will occur on October 23rd and include panel presentations, agency exhibits, and breakout information and discussion sessions for the students during the school day. Also included for any concerned parent, family or community member will be an evening information session at the La Porte High School Auditorium at 6:00 that evening. Information shared there will be trends, warning signs, conversation tips and access to resources.
As you can tell, a lot of effort is being put into mitigating substance abuse from many individuals across the community, and this only reflects a small portion of the areas where the lion’s share of the work is being accomplished. Everyday law enforcement, probation officers, counselors, judges, teachers, principals and mentors are working extremely hard, often thanklessly, to continue fighting the parasite of substance abuse. We are making a difference with decreased numbers of overdoses, not to mention just in the conversations that are being held across the community. We will continue to press hard to reduce substance abuse, and I will continue to update and engage you as we move forward.