Substance Abuse Task Force meets, continues its work
Sixteen participants attended the April 9 dinner meeting of the Ozark County Substance Abuse Task Force. Licensed counselor and pastor David Evans served as moderator.
As part of the Prevention Work Group, Pastor Jeff Dotson reported on the Facts and Fun night that was held from 6 p.m. until midnight on Friday, March 29, at Bakersfield School for students in sixth through 12th grades. Ninety youths and several parents attended the event, Dotson said. David Stoecker, with Springfield-based Better Life in Recovery, spoke about his experiences with drugs over a 22-year period. Becky Gann, Missouri Ozarks Community Health Network director, spoke on vaping and showed samples of various vaping devices. Student members of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes helped with the event. Task force members Sandra Wade and Kalen Hoffman reported on their interactions with the students attending the event.
Plans are being made to have a youth event at the Saddle Club Grounds with a hotdog roast and fun games sometime in the future.
Frontier Baptist Church in Pontiac is planning to host an event on May 3.
A vaping-presentation training session will be held from 10 a.m. to noon Wednesday, May 22, at the Wellness Center in Ava.
A substance-abuse-prevention skills training session will be held May 7-10 in West Plains.
The Planning Work Group reported that it had met on April 6 to work on the organization’s bylaws. The group will meet again on May 11 to complete the bylaws and then present them to task force members for approval.
During the discussion portion of the April 9 meeting, attorney Linda McKinney said she recently attended a Treatment Court conference where it was said that substances such as marijuana, heroin and various other drugs can be modified for use in vaping devices.
McKinney said that other information shared at the conference included the fact that, in the 1960s, the THC in marijuana was 10-15 percent pure in potency while today it is nearly 80-90 percent pure. One of the ingredients in vape “juice” is propylene glycol, a liquid alcohol used as a solvent in anti-freeze. She added that the manufacturers of the Juul device, the most commonly used vaping device among teens, was bought out by a well-known tobacco company and is now a $15 billion industry.
Becky Gann and Ozark County Prosecuting Attorney John Garrabrant reported on the tour they took recently with Jeff Dotson and others to visit Care Center Ministries in Mountain Home, Arkansas. The facility is a faith-based treatment center for men and women. Task force members said they were impressed with the structure, cleanliness and the organization and how much its staff members seemed to care for the residentss.
Staff member Blake Atchison led the tour of Care Center Ministries, which currently has 36 beds in the men’s facility and 13 beds in the women’s facility with immediate openings available.
The residents’ day starts at 5 a.m. and ends at 10 p.m. with continuous programs throughout the day. Residents live in dormitories and work on the premises for the first nine months, after which they can work out in the community doing various jobs for the elderly and for disabled veterans. Care Center Ministries’ overhead is $39,000 per month. In addition to grant funds, it has a strong support system in the community and from area churches that helps with funding.
The program begins with a 30-day trial period. About 50 percent of the residents never complete the program. However, 95 percent of those who have completed the program have not relapsed.
Garrabrant said anybody can go to a rehab facility for 90-120 days and come out with the same problem. The long-term faith-based treatment centers have the most success.
Gann has been invited to tour the Synergy Executive Center in Rogersville. This will be a Women’s Long-Term Care Treatment Facility along with a new men’s facility in Ozark. It will be similar to the facility in Mountain Home as they are both faith-based and provide long-term treatment.
Gann also had posters hung on the wall with information about the various drugs that are being used in the area. The poster that got the most attention said this: “Missouri has the 8th largest prison population with an estimated 31,830 prisoners for 2019, at a cost of $22,561 per prisoner per year. Our current trajectory will have the state 2,000 prison beds short in 2021, requiring two new prisons to be built at a cost of $485 million.” Establishing more faith-based treatment centers in the state to help men and women conquer addiction and keep from going to prison would save the state a lot of money, Gann said.
Sandra Morris, HealthTran senior coordinator from West Plains, talked to the group about transportation help that is available through that organization. Medical clinics that are members in the organization can refer patients or clients who have transportation needs. They use public transportation when it is available, and when it is not, they use volunteer drivers who are vetted and paid employees of the Missouri Rural Health Association.