Battling drugs in our community

Drugs

What can a library do to help combat illicit drug use?

Indeed, what can any of us do…by ourselves? As with so many large-scale problems, grassroots movements may be our best hope in the opioid epidemic that is killing so many. A community effort is definitely needed.

Overdose deaths in Armstrong County have grown from 13 in 2013 to at least 41 last year. Armstrong County Coroner Brian Myers said so far this year he has seen about one overdose death every four or five days.  

According to the DEA, Armstrong County had the second highest per capita rate of drug-related overdose deaths in the state in 2015. Philadelphia County had the highest rate.

While law-enforcement officials continue on the frontlines, they frequently say we cannot arrest our way out of this problem. Prevention and treatment are the key.

Now for some good news.

Armstrong County has some stellar prevention programs and citizens’ groups, such as the Drugs Kill Dreams program: the Reality Tour, at Armstrong County Jail; and Residents Against Illicit Drugs (RAID), in Apollo and Parker.

And, while treatment remains the big challenge here and in many rural communities, we have some innovative treatment programs at the county jail and at ACMH.

Last week, the Drug Free Communities Coalition held a well-attended meeting at the Belmont Complex. Although some past meetings have been hosted in Elderton, this was the first meeting in central Armstrong County and served to introduce area residents to the organization.

The Armstrong-Indiana-Clarion Drug and Alcohol Commission is the leading organization behind the Coalition. Commission Executive Director Kami Anderson told the Belmont crowd last week that community movements, such as the coalition, bring people together to contribute in different ways to combat drugs and save lives.

So, again, I ask:

What can a library do? Aside from raising awareness and informing citizens of treatment and prevention resources, it appears there are other ways for libraries to help.

According to Anderson, after-school programs are one prevention method used by nonprofits and faith-based groups. Statistics show, young people are most inclined to get into trouble and engage in risky behavior between 3:30 (the end of the school day) and 6 p.m. (when parents generally get home from work).

At Ford City Library, we’re making a commitment to double down on our after-school programming. It’s one of the ways we’re working as a drug-free community partner. Stay tuned to our blog for future ways we’ll be involved in the critical community fight against drugs.

The Drug Free Communities Coalition will meet again from 10 a.m. to noon Feb. 16 at the Belmont Complex.

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