Trumbull drug strategy: Get everyone trained and involved

A large number of people interact with substance abusers every day in Trumbull County, but the work of counselors, law-enforcement officers, educators, family members and health care workers won’t produce the desired effect until they are all thoroughly trained and involved in how to address the problem.

Getting professionals trained in use of social media, having annual drug-education summits for law enforcement and communicating more with physicians about drug trends are among the top goals of a Drug and Crime Prevention Strategic Plan unveiled Saturday at Trumbull Career and Technical Center.

The plan spells out two other broad areas — educating families and mobilizing the community — that the Trumbull County Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention feels will make a difference.

A team that includes individuals from Youngstown State University’s Center for Urban and Regional Studies spent a year gathering information and creating a “comprehensive and integrated approach” that they hope will guide policy development, programs and funding proposals,” the four-page report says.

Trumbull County has a substance-abuse problem because of a “perfect storm” of negative forces over the past five years, especially the loss of thousands of manufacturing jobs and the spinoff industries that went with them, the report says.

In 2012, Trumbull County’s unemployment rate was 8.1 percent, 30th highest in Ohio and first among the state’s 13 urbanized counties, the report says. The number of Trumbull County residents living in poverty increased 25 percent between 1990 and 2008.

“Poverty and unemployment have well-established relationships with stressors and high-risk behaviors,” the report said. “Increases in poverty and unemployment predictably lead to increases in our community’s behavioral-health needs, including a wide range of substance-abuse problems.”

Only 11 percent of Trumbull County residents hold a bachelor’s degree, and 43 percent of individuals 16 and older were not in the labor force in 2012, the report noted.

Schools need help to help their students, so the Trumbull County Educational Service Center, formerly known as the county school board, will be asked to assess district knowledge and capacity to provide prevention education, the report said.

From there, the ASAP Coalition plans to collaborate with the districts to provide support for substance-abuse prevention programs and identify existing resources that can be used to counsel students in need.

Families need help becoming more knowledgeable about substance abuse, so the ASAP Coalition hopes to provide drug-awareness training through a family lecture series.

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