A local organization that fights substance abuse is seeking state and federal funding to help boost the impact of four anti-drug programs launched last year that target youths and their families.
The Bartholomew County Substance Abuse Council applied in May for a one-year, $130,000 state grant to support its Communities That Care program, Eric Riddle, CTC community coordinator, said Wednesday at City Hall to representatives of community agencies that have a stake in reducing the incidence of substance abuse.
By March of next year, the council plans to apply for a federal grant that provides $125,000 annually for five years and could be renewed for an additional five years, Riddle said. It requires a substantial local monetary or in-kind match and a coalition of community partners, though.
Last year, Purdue University gave $35,000 to the county’s CTC program, helping launch four initiatives: Project Alert, which targets middle school students; the No Hosting Initiative, which tries to persuade adults not to host parties for youths at which alcohol is served; Above the Influence, which gives adolescents tools to fight environmental influences that might lead to drug and alcohol use; and Guiding Good Choices, run through the Columbus mental health provider Centerstone, which gives parents of children ages 9 to 14 skills to guide their children through challenges they face in early adolescence.
“The issue of substance abuse really plagues us ... whether that is family or friends,” Riddle said.
He cited a 2011 report by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse that said teen substance abuse is the nation’s No. 1 public health problem. The report said that 90 percent of Americans who meet the medical criteria for addiction began smoking, drinking or using other drugs before age 18.
According to a 2009 survey by the Indiana Prevention Resource Council, also cited by Riddle, Bartholomew County’s seventh- and eighth-graders were using tobacco, alcohol and marijuana at rates greater than state averages for those grades.
The Purdue grant money paid for training and coalition building, Riddle said. That funding is ending, though, so a fresh source of money is needed to keep the anti-drug programs moving forward.
Riddle said the four anti-drug programs have had a moderate impact so far because of limited funding.
Twenty-five Central Middle School students have received education about substance abuse through the Project Alert program. However, the program’s goal is to reach 600 students.
Centerstone has had about 10 adults participate in the Guiding Good Choices program.
Above the Influence received T-shirts, bracelets and signs from a federal agency, and those were distributed at events sponsored by Teens for the Betterment of Bartholomew County.
Messages have been aired on the radio as part of the No Hosting Initiative.
“We know what we want to do, but it takes some funding to do it,” Riddle said.
Others at Wednesday’s event underscored the importance of educating young people about substance abuse.
Prescription drug use among adolescents is increasing so rapidly that in the next five years it could equal or surpass their use of tobacco, alcohol and marijuana because prescription drugs are readily available, accessible and affordable, said Larry Perkinson, the employee and student assistance coordinator for Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp.
In addition, a recently enacted state law that imposes harsher penalties on those who sell synthetic drugs, such as the marijuana substitute “spice,” already is facing a challenge by at least one maker of synthetic drugs, which says it has manufactured two synthetic drugs not covered by the state law, said state Rep. Milo Smith, R-Columbus, the architect of the legislation.
Synthetic drugs often are used by adolescents and young adults, he noted.
“If we have to change the law next year, we will,” Smith said.
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