Published in the Southngton Citizen January 13, 2012
The problem of drug abuse in the United States may not be news but there are some startling pieces of reality that many not know. For example, the alarmingly higher rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. than those using cocaine, hallucinogens and heroin combined, according to a 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
In conversation with Aisha S. Hamid, Director, Substance Abuse Action Council, a division of CMHA (Connecticut Mental Health Affiliates), our eyes were opened to additional well-documented facts: One in ten teens has abused cough medication, 1 in 5 has abused prescription drugs and that every day, 2,700 teens experiment with prescription medicine to get high for the first time. Teens somehow believe that abuse of prescription and over-the-counter drugs is safer than street drugs. The source: 70% of those who do so admit to acquiring them from family and friends.
The SAAC division of CMHA is a partnership of community members from 14 municipalities, including Southington, advocating on behalf of substance abuse prevention, treatment, and recovery. The New Britain-based unit’s services include community awareness, prevention, advocacy, and education. As SAAC director, Hamid works in close collaboration with STEPS, Southington’s Town-wide Efforts to Promote Success which formally begin in 2008. A resident of Plantsville, Hamid plays a hands on role in STEPS as a member of its Advisory Committee where her sources and experience provide invaluable facts and insights in the prevention of drug abuse.
“Under a federal grant, SAAC is able to mentor, collaborate with and assist community opportunities such as STEPS, Southington Town-wide Efforts to Promote Success, in programs that work now and for the long term to reduce and ultimately change the culture of drug and alcohol abuse and other risky behavior in our young people, to build a culture that will grow healthy kids”, said Susan Saucier, Director of Southington, (CT), Youth Services.
“Without SAAC, we would not be as far along as we are in our progress, now in our third year operating under our own federal grant which SAAC was instrumental in helping us obtain” Saucier added. Saucier plays a pivotal role in STEPS as vice president of the Executive Board of STEPS.
For the fourth time, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has scheduled a National Prescription Drug Take Back Day to take place on Saturday, April 28, 2012, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Participation in the third National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on October 29 turned in more than 377,086 pounds (188.5 tons) of unwanted or expired medications for safe and proper disposal at the 5,327 take-back sites available in all 50 states and U.S. territories. Further initiatives are in the making.
CT Prevention Network is holding an informational session on Wednesday, January 11, 2012 to provide details about the medication collection and disposal policy and procedures, drop box options and successes of the pilot programs. The information session will be held at CMHA offices on 270 John Downey Drive, New Britain, CT. For registration and more information contact Aisha S. Hamid at 860-826-1358 x1620/ email@example.com.
Perhaps the critical factor in the ultimate success of STEPS or any town will be an ever-widening public awareness of the perils of our current culture of drug and alcohol abuse in teens as well as adults and the broadest possible commitment of our citizens. STEPS has already begun the process of awareness and education in the everyday lives of children, parents, family and the diverse sectors of our community, but its work must continue to grow and spread the word.
Read, listen and act at any opportunity to help this movement because it is vital to the future and an opportunity in our town and others, one village at a time.
Movements such as Southington's Town-wide Efforts to Promote Success (STEPS) are gathering momentum across the nation under various names. To learn more about this comprehensive action plan to positively re-direct our culture in the future, follow the link to: S.T.E.P.S.