An Ounce of Prevention

Community Connections, through Prevention Without Borders, unites community Substance Use Disorder (Addiction) prevention coalitions to collectively strengthen local efforts in southern and southwestern West Virginia. This includes prevention coalitions in Fayette, Greenbrier, McDowell, Mercer, Monroe, Nicholas, Pocahontas, Raleigh, Summers, Webster and Wyoming counties.

Community Connections contracted with Collective Impact, LLC, to conduct a regional Substance Use Disorder (Addiction) Community Assessment for the 11 counties in its services area. Substance Use Disorder occurs when someone is using mind-altering substances more and more until life’s normal routines are interrupted.

As part of the assessment, a community survey has been distributed throughout the region and has received over 3,500 responses, nearly 700 of those came from youth under the age of 18.

In addition to the survey, Bruce Decker, Owner of Collective Impact, conducted two virtual focus groups in each of the 11 counties, for a total of 22 sessions throughout the region. One of the focus groups in each county was held with community leaders, non-profit organizations, faith-based communities, and other community residents interested in sharing and learning more about Substance Use Disorder in their communities. The second focus group in each county was held with people in recovery from addiction. In all, nearly 200 people participated in the focus group sessions.

A variety of topics were discussed during the focus groups including the types of substances being used most in the community; reasons that people start using addictive substances; behaviors or signs that might indicate that someone is ready for help with their addiction; barriers for getting treatment for addiction; the communities’ experience and perceptions with Medication Assisted Treatments (Suboxone, Methadone, Vivitrol, etc.) and the lifesaving drug Naloxone (Narcan); the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on people actively using addictive substances or those in addiction recovery; and ways to prevent Substance Use Disorder (Addiction) in their communities.

The results from the survey and focus groups, along with extensive secondary data, will be compiled into a report that will be available to community stakeholders by mid-summer. The assessment report will provide Community Connections and its community partners with valuable information that can be used for planning and resource distribution; leverage funding for new and existing prevention, intervention and treatment programs; educating the community; advocating for policy change; and ensuring that the 11 communities in southern and southeastern West Virginia are being served in the best way possible.

For more information about Community Connections Inc., Prevention Without Borders, or the Regional Substance Use Disorder Community Assessment project, contact Dr. Patricia Browning at dr470pat@ yahoo.co.nz

The Pocahontas County Prevention Coalition would like to thank the close to 400 county residents who completed the survey and to the 25 people who participated in the virtual Focus groups. Your comments and responses are very important to guide our efforts to fight the drug epidemic.

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