Drug coalition hopes to grow mission

The Monroe County Coalition for Drug-Free Communities took the next steps to helping solve the county’s drug problem by hearing from two professional resources at its March meeting.

The March 10 meeting, which had been delayed a week due to risky weather conditions, brought in Sgt. Anica Jankowski of the National Guard Counter-Drug Task Force and Amy Weiland of the Crossroads Program.

The two each gave brief presentations about how they can help the coalition grow its mission and what some of the best approaches are to the county’s substance abuse issues.

Jankowski will serve as one of the National Guard’s representatives to the coalition, and during the meeting she presented information about a strategic prevention framework centered around a cyclical chart that includes assessment, capacity, planning, implementation and evaluation.

The coalition’s steering committee identified a problem statement from a statistic Regional Superintendent of Schools Kelton Davis brought from the 2012 Illinois Youth Survey.

The problem statement the steering committee approved was that 19 percent of Monroe County tenth graders reported binge drinking in the past 30 days (when the survey was conducted in 2012).

“We have to look at what is feasible and affects the most people,” Jankowski said. “That statistic is staggering and is the root for a lot of other problems.”

She presented information about how identifying root causes can help target interventions and lead to eventual solutions.

“Each step of this process should have a data point where you can quantify information,” she said. “We don’t want to miss out on opportunities to partner with other groups.”

Jankowski said since the statistic about binge drinking has been identified as the problem statement, everything the coalition does should be working toward affecting that 19 percent statistic.

Bill Rebholz, one of the coalition founders, said he feels very optimistic about how the coalition has identified a problem statement and now has a quantitative number to work with.

“(The steering committee) feels very confident that the next steps will lead to concrete actions and things we can truly measure,” he said. “The data benchmarks Monroe County against Illinois as a whole, and we’re spiking ahead of Illinois with underage drinking.”

Monroe County Coroner Vicki Koerber said Monroe County is currently in the midst of obtaining new data, which the coalition will be able to match against 2012 data and assess.

Rebholz said after the community forum on substance abuse in February, he has had many questions about treatment help for those who need it.

“We need to address this problem and find hope for this problem,” he said. “When you see the miracle of recovery, that’s huge.”

Weiland told her story of addiction and recovery, and talked to the group about the Crossroads sobriety program.

She told about how she “fell in love” with getting high many years ago, and the key to recovery is helping people find another outlet they can fall in love with just as much.

The Crossroads program is an enthusiastic sobriety program based out of Chesterfield, Mo., that aims to not preach, but to be real with the people they’re helping.

“We want (our patients) to get everything they possibly can out of treatment,” she said. “Our style of treatment caters to the young adult and it gives them a real alternative to getting high.”

Also at the meeting:

•The logo contest for schools is currently taking place and will have gift card prizes.

•The coalition discussed the possibility of having a welcoming/recruitment committee.

•Brochures for the coalition may be possible at some point in the future.

•The next meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. April 7 at the Monroe County YMCA.

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