A recent study on substance abuse shows that one out of six Ripley County adults reported that they had friends or family members who had experienced problems as a result of abusing prescription pain relievers. One in ten adults in the county reported binge drinking in the 30 days before the survey.
With those numbers firmly in hand, Paula Goodpaster, coordinator of the Ripley County Local Coordinating Council Against Substance Abuse,(LCC) knows the coalition's work is cut out for them.
The annual meeting of the LCC was held June 21 with Goodpaster telling those in attendance that things have changed for the better over the years as far as LCC's work in the community. She said while they aren't completely recognized, they are becoming more known. She also alluded to the media by passing around an Osgood Journal with a story about a heroin bust published. She thanked the media outlets, saying they have helped get the word out about what the LCC is doing and why.
She noted that people are more involved and was thankful for that
Amy Phillips of the YES home said, "Paula is doing a full time job for part time pay." She continued by saying LCC is now pursuing a grant to change that. "We want our communities to be safe," she noted, adding, "We don't want to be known as the ‘heroin capital'.
Kurt Enneking, investigator for the Ripley County Prosecutor's Office and a part of LCC, facilitated the meeting and gave problems, goals and objectives for the next year.
In Enneking's report he noted that illegal use of prescription drugs, marijuana, and heroin is a pressing problem in the county. To add to the problem, finding treatment for addiction, which is accessible and affordable is also a problem. The third identifying problem is that residents in the county minimize or (understate) the abuse of alcohol and tobacco.
Goals LCC has set forth include: improve tracking of specific drug use, reduce recidivism by drug abusers, increase treatment options and providers in the county and make them affordable.
More goals would include increasing the awareness of problems in the community from the misuse and abuse of substances, increase awareness of available support and treatment that is already available, increase support and involvement in the schools and increase youth involvement with the coalition to help with prevention in schools and the community.
One of those goals is being realized as a youth coalition has been formed.
Objectives include: broadening the community survey, conducting training, events, and public meetings, continuing to work with the media, the development of a website and Facebook page and working toward collaboration between court and treatment, investigate and develop a drug court.
Enneking's report went on to say they need to develop a regular ongoing reporting system with partners to gather data and look for ways to pay for treatment for those who cannot pay.
Two other things the coalition will work toward is to select youth leaders and develop agreements with schools. They will also apply for a Drug Free Community Grant.
Amy Phillips talked about how some of the school corporations are getting enthused about the group. She gave high praise for Jac-Cen-Del's new superintendent, Dr. Leanna Phillippe, saying, she is truly involved and interested in working with the coalition. Batesville has already been on board, and South Ripley has also recently come on board. Amy reported she would talk with Milan's superintendent Dr. Thomas Reale and hopes they will complete the circle of all schools working toward the same goal with the coalition.
Pamplets were given out on alcohol and drug abuse.
Findings from the Greater Cincinnati Survey commissioned by The Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati were reported for Ripley County.
Alcohol, used in the right manner, is perfectly legal. However, it is no secret that it falls into the hands of those who are underage. Also, if the survey is correct, it means that one in ten adults are binge drinking in this area, which is defined as having four or more drinks on one occasion for woman and five or more drinks on one occasion for men.
Smoking is another issued that was brought up at the LCC meeting. Goodpaster was thankful for the new no-smoking law for Indiana coming up July 1. This means smokers will not be allowed to light up in any public place other than a bar or club and then in a designated area. ATC Officer Chuck Peters was in attendance at the LCC meeting and said there were varying degrees of fines and penalties for smoking where you're not supposed to be and they would be carried out.
The problem of prescription drug abuse continues to hurt those who indulge. It is common, easily accessible and can take place behind the scenes, until someone has to be transported to a hospital or worse.
Prescription drugs have been around for years and are safe when used as directed. However, when they are not used are prescribed, serious adverse health problems can arise.
One in five reported that they had friends and family members who abuse prescription pain relievers. There is good news. For residents who have a medicine cabinet full of unused prescription medicine, they can get rid of them easily and safely.
There are take-back programs through several venues, pharmacies and always at the Ripley County Sheriff's Office, Versailles. Also, the Batesville Police Department has an ongoing take-back program. Get the medicine out of your house!
LCC is committed to working alongside many in the community to reach their goals as outlined above.
The 2012 Ripley County LCC grants awarded were: $10,000 for prevention going to the Choice Program at Batesville Community School Corporation; Youth Mentoring, Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Greater Cincinnati; Reaching the Community, Prevent Child Abuse in Ripley County, United Families and FIRE, One Community One Family; Exploratory Committee: Drug Courts in Ripley County, Ripley County Prosecutor's Office; and Random Drug Testing, South Ripley School Corp. (holding for school board approval).
LCC awarded treatment grants in the amount of $9,000 to United Families and FIRE and Exploratory Committee: Drug Courts in Ripley County. Grants for law enforcement in the amount of $10,000 went to: Forensic Cellular Data Extraction Device, Batesville Police Department; Indiana State Police's D42 K-9 replacement, Indiana State Police Alliance Foundation and Exploratory Committee: Drug Court in Ripley County through the prosecutor's office.
Prosecutor Ric Hertel released this statement, "Approximately two-thirds of all criminal cases filed in Ripley County have an underlying component" of drugs or alcohol. This includes the traditional drug and alcohol crimes, but also violent and property crimes that are fuled by drug use."
He went on to say the influx of heroin from the Cincinnati area and the abuse of prescription medications are the biggest concerns for the community.
"The prosecutor's office believes that the continued interdiction efforts of the Indiana State Police and the use of K-9s by area law enforcement such as Batesville and Milan police departments, are steps in the right direction," Hertel noted. He concluded by saying his office is currently exploring community-based alternatives for drug offenders that include Community Corrections and a Drug Court.
Those interested in learning more about the LCC can contact Goodpaster at 812-212-8406 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor's Note: Watch for more stories concerning alternative sentencing and a drug court in upcoming issues of the paper.
WANDA ENGLISH BURNETT PHOTOS
Pictured at left, Osgood Town Marshal Eric Rousch, reads the Osgood Journal after Paula Goodpastor, coordinator of the Ripley County LCC group, showed a story at the annual meeting and told the group how important the media is to their progress.