Ryan: Hone your message
By Dean Shipley
That a substance abuse problem exists in Madison County, there is no doubt.
The Madison County Substance Abuse Coalition (MCSAC) on Thursday, Feb. 14, discussed with consultant Jim Ryan on how to trend substance abuse toward it becoming a smaller problem rather than a larger one.
Ryan, of Ryan Training and Consulting, encouraged the MCSAC to hone its efforts so as it moves forward, it can say that whatever plan it adopted at this point in time, made a difference. He said programs instituted in the past by an organization, with no basis in data, made it “feel good,” but it didn’t show results in the outcomes.
“We have to demonstrate what we do makes a difference,” he said.
Many of the people, by show of hands, indicated their passion in the challenge of substance abuse is prevention. It is the first step in a series of steps Ryan outlined. They include: Prevention, intervention, treatment, recovery (PITR). The majority of attendees want to stop substance abuse in any form (alcohol, opiate pain killers, illegal drugs) from ever happening.
Ryan said it is known prevention costs less, is less painful and there are “a lot of benefits.”
“We want to make sure we do prevention well,” Ryan said.
He asked the question how ready is the community to deal with this issue?
What buy-in do we have?
Who do we need at the table to move forward with the process?
In planning we need to be targeted or it won’t go anywhere,” Ryan said.
So who is the the bulls eye of the target?
The children or the parents?
With adults it was said, their “permissive attitude” has to be changed. The example was given of adults serving alcohol to underage children and believing well it’s only a little alcohol and it won’t hurt them. That permissive attitude sends the wrong message or dilutes any “anti-drug message” such a parent might deliver to their children.
“If parents don’t see it as a problem, it goes nowhere,” Ryan said.
Jim Bates of London Correctional Institution (LOCI) quoted Stephen Douglas, saying it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.
“That’s what we do,” he said of LOCI
Bev Poindexter of Metro Housing left with questions.
“Where do we go from here,” she asked after the meeting. She acknowledges the whole community will have to engage in order to push the curve of substance abuse from ascending to descending.
“We’ve got to come together as a community, but how,” Poindexter asked.
Brenda Russell, who formerly worked at the Armory, said in her interaction with children there, she could see changes in them, for the better.
So for substance abuse to decline, especially among youth, adults can play an important role.
But the Armory is gone, thus removing a component of physical contact with children.
A course of action is needed she said.