The heroin epidemic
4-Pillars approach begins with prevention
Part Two: A review of programs in place and what else is needed

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[March 03, 2016]  LINCOLN - At a meeting held last Thursday at Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital, the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Destructive Behaviors Task Force hosted a meeting that included a very diverse group of individuals, all there to address the problem of heroin addiction in Logan County.


Some of the participants included multiple branches of law enforcement including police officers from several communities, representatives from the Logan County Sheriff’s Office and Illinois State Police, local fire departments, Logan County State’s Attorney Jonathan Wright, Logan County Coroner Robert Thomas, Logan County Probation, as well principals and superintendents from several Logan County Schools, and other groups and organizations.

The group was there to begin the process of a strategic, 4-Pillar Plan to address the use of heroin in Logan County. The meeting was led by Nadia Klekamp, an ATOD member who is also on staff with Chestnut Health Systems. At the beginning of the meeting, Klekamp identified the four pillars as Prevention, Treatment, Enforcement, and Harm reduction. She explained that the focus of this meeting would be on Prevention.

After hearing from a special guest speaker, an addict in recovery; and reviewing some local statistics on drug and alcohol abuse, Klekamp moved on to how to address prevention.

Klekamp explained that there are three classifications of prevention:

Primary - stopping it before it starts.
Secondary - reducing use, stopping progression.
Tertiary - harm reduction focus, which will be separate from this discussion and be highlighted in later discussions.

She said that for the purpose of this group, the first two classifications would be the primary focus because the third “harm reduction” would work into the fourth pillar.

In order for the group to be successful, she said a strategic plan needed to be developed and that measurable outcomes should be identified. For the plan to have outcomes, she said the group would first need to determine what prevention programs are already in place and how well they are working. She explained this would create the “baseline” for future data. The success or failure of the program can then be determined based on the shift in data.

To start the process of creating the baseline, Klekamp divided the room into several small groups. Each group was then accompanied by a member of the ATOD, and given questions to discuss and answer.

The first question was, “What prevention strategies are we currently doing that work?”

The second question was, “What prevention strategies are we currently doing that are not working?”

The third question, “What prevention strategies do you think would work for our: Community - Parents - Schools?”

When the groups came back to discuss their findings, many grouped the first two questions together in their statements, and also talked about some of the hurdles or shortcomings they see. They also offered some good opinions in response to the third question.

All the groups recognized that the local D.A.R.E. program is a good tool to aid in drug prevention. However, some thought that the program was not targeting younger children when it should be. It was noted that D.A.R.E is a middle school and high school program. But the 2012 statistic that nine percent of children begin smoking marijuana at age 13 indicates that perhaps the program should be starting at the elementary age level rather than junior high school.

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The Healthy Communities Partnership Substance Free Bowling Party held annually was mentioned as a fun, family event that promotes having fun without drugs and alcohol. It was noted that the annual event has grown substantially over the last few years, even though it did get off to a slow start.

Another group mentioned the Victim Impact Panel. The V.I.P. program is sponsored by the Healthy Communities Partnership. According to information provided to LDN in 2014, “the Victim Impact Panel is a program for offenders of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The panels are a non-confrontational presentation given by victims of DUI crashes who speak about the impact the DUI crash has had on their lives. The panel presents an often unheard perspective to DUI offenders. Judges often include the requirement to attend a VIP as part of a sentence, in the hopes that offenders will benefit from learning firsthand about the trauma, physical pain, emotional suffering and devastation, financial loss, anger and frustration that DUI victims and family members commonly experience.”

It was also mentioned that there is a drug recycling program that permits parents to safely dispose of unused prescription drugs in their homes, thus taking away the opportunity for children to “experiment” with drugs through painkillers, anti-depressants, and other harmful narcotics.

The groups also recognized some areas needed more attention. Mark Miller of the Lincoln Police Department noted that local firefighters do safety training in the public schools, but they are not equipped to discuss drug and alcohol abuse.

Another group noted that there are not many opportunities for kids outside of sports in this area. It was suggested that there needs to be more activities and places for kids that don’t focus on athletics. It was also suggested that there needed to be more parent counseling on drug prevention.

Klekamp was asked if parent counseling is part of the treatment program at Chestnut Health Systems. She said it could be but often depended on how big a problem was with the child or patient.

State's Attorney Jonathan Wright was asked if parent counseling was required through the legal system. He said for juvenile cases it often is part of the program.

Another group noted that drug and alcohol abuse in children may be fed by drug and alcohol abuse at home. That group felt there was a need for a safe place where children can go to talk about what is going on at home.

A member of the “His Hands” organization noted that the group now has a community center across the street from Ray White Park in Lincoln. There are volunteers there, and children can come and go freely. While there, they have the opportunity to vent to caring adults about what is going on at home, if they wish. He said no child is pressured into such discussions, but caring, Christian adults are there for them if needed.

Angela Stoltzenburg said in response to question number three; her group felt there needed to be a larger presence of mentoring groups such as Big Brothers and Big Sisters. Another person noted that the “Girls on the Run” program was growing locally. That group also promotes good health and a substance-free lifestyle.

Klekamp was well pleased with the responses to the first three questions but noted that the group was out of time for discussion. She said there were two more questions that she had hoped to get to, but that would have to wait until the next meeting.

Those questions were, “What kind of commitment will it take to realistically address the problem? What additional resources are needed?” and “What barriers exist to implement these strategies.”

As they prepared to adjourn, the group was reminded that in the packets they were given at the beginning of the day were pages with various resources listed that focus on drug and alcohol intervention and treatment. Klekamp said the work would continue at the next meeting which will be held on Thursday, March 17th.

[Nila Smith]


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