09/02/2010: "$625K To Fight Substance Abuse On Lopez"
By Martha Sharon and Georgeana Coo
Have you heard about the Lopez Island Prevention Coalition (LIPC)? It is a diverse group of Lopezians who are working to help prevent substance abuse, and support healthy choices for Lopez youth, and all ages. The coalition has been meeting for two years to build a collaboration of individuals, agencies, and organizations for this mission.
LIPC just joined Orcas Island Prevention Partnership, San Juan Island Prevention Coalition, and over700 other communities that have been awarded a Drug Free Communities grant. LIPC will receive $125,000 each year for five years; a total of $625,000. The grant can be renewed for another five years at the end of this cycle.
This is a big achievement for LIPC, and we would like to thank our mentor in this process: Cynthia Stark-Wickman, the coordinator of San Juan Island Prevention Coalition (SJIPC). Without her patience and guidance about the process, we would not have been able to achieve what we have been able to do in the last two years.
This program is administered by the office of National Drug Control Policy, in partnership with the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. The idea of the coalition is to be supported by DFC grants until the group can become financially sustainable on its own.
The funds will be used to for training of members, to hire an executive coordinator, and a youth engagement facilitator; for office supplies and equipment, for activities on the island that support healthy choices for our youth, and coalition projects. Although a number of local agencies and organizations are members of the coalition, all funds from the grant will go to work and projects specific to the mission, and not to benefit the agencies.
A focus of the program is to create sustainable changes in community substance abuse patterns through environmental strategies: policy and practice changes that affect community norms about substance abuse. An example of this is already seen in policy changes which have affected tobacco use in Washington. Currently fewer than 15% of people smoke in Washington, since policies which made it more difficult for youth to access tobacco, and restricted presence of tobacco in our communities made it less convenient to light up. Research shows that children who don’t see local role models smoking, who know that adults disapprove of it, and who find it difficult to get cigarettes are less likely to smoke.
A local example of environmental change is the current project that San Juan, Orcas, and Lopez prevention coalitions are collaborating on with the sheriff’s office, and local pharmacies to take back unused medication. Abuse of prescription medication is now second only to marijuana use; prescription medication theft in the county has been increasing for the last few years, and overdose from misuse of these substances has increased in emergency rooms. A decreased supply of these medications for illegal use can help to prevent overdose, and/or the development of dependence on drugs in people who believe that these are safer recreational drugs because “the doctor ordered them”.
LIPC welcomes community participation; if you are interested in becoming a member, please contact me at 370.7515 or at firstname.lastname@example.org or Georgeana Cook at email@example.com.
LIPC’s youth coalition, the D.R.E.A.M. Team welcomes new members, as well;
please contact Alex Cook at 468.4934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information: http://www.ondcp.gov/DFC/