Most coalitions would want their work to “on the map,” so to speak, but one coalition in the state where CADCA and its coalitions just convened our annual Mid-Year Training Institute has implemented CADCA strategies to get its name “off” a map, literally.
La Porte County, Ind. is geographically located where a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area highway brings a pipeline of illegal substances flowing from Chicago to Detroit. Prescription Drug misuse is fueling their heroin epidemic that ranks them as No. 2 in the state out of 92 counties. It’s not a good place to be on a map, said Micki Webb, DFC Grant Coordinator for the La Porte County Drug Free Partnership.
“We have discovered that even well-meaning professionals and coalition membership may not recognize the importance of safe disposal and keeping medications locked to avoid inappropriate diversion and thus much of our role is to raise awareness of the issue and then avoid misdirected medication through safe disposal at drop sites or locking up prescriptions,” Webb said.
So the coalition has been working on changing perceptions and the environment, itself, starting with advocacy.
In February during CADCA’s Capitol Hill Day, Webb and her colleagues met with Indiana Senator Joseph Donnelly (D-IND.) and discussed the issue of prescription drug misuse in La Porte County. Following U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly’s reintroduction of bipartisan legislation to combat heroin use and prescription drug abuse epidemics with Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Webb provided information and kept the senator’s office aware of the La Porte County concerns and in particular, their efforts on youth prevention.
Then, the coalition brought key sectors together to strategize.
“The La Porte County Drug Free Partnership, through our DFC grant and our state SPF grant, collaborated with our County Health Council convened a meeting of key stakeholders that included law enforcement, hospital administrators, school administration, funeral home directors, Hispanic leaders, faith community representatives, Waste Management, and the director of the senior center to develop a comprehensive plan with strategies that specific sectors might take on,” Webb said, “In facilitating the meeting, the presentation drew from CADCA resources and elicited a discussion among community leadership about myths and gaps in our approaches to education, disposal, and diversion.”
The coalition now maintains 24-hour drop boxes in three major law enforcement lobby areas and one of their two area hospitals has just added its own law enforcement security force.
“We have met with their administration in hopes of adding another 24 hour drop box at the hospital. Both hospital administrations have also agreed to promote the lock box sites and develop a mechanisms to alert patients on appropriate disposal of unwanted meds. One of these hospitals has agreed to position a lock box in its lobby,” she added.
Other strategies include meeting with their new county sheriff who has implemented the use of Naloxone and is partnering on promoting efforts to reduce medication misuse. He is also providing an officer to be present during community events that the coalition is planning including “Hidden in Plain Sight” an interactive exhibit of a mock teen bedroom. The coalition has held a forum to address Rx abuse in their underserved Latino community. They plan more forums for parents and other leaders to discuss the issue.
Training and messaging around the issue is also key for parents and youth, Webb said.
The coalition has planned an environmental scan related to prescription drugs and alcohol next month.
The coalition is always working on ways to reduce prescription drug and over the counter medicine misuse and abuse.
“In my opinion, there is no one strategy that has been most successful, however, the fact that we have engaged the community in a dialogue to craft a comprehensive plan and are approaching it from multiple angles will be key to achieving outcomes. Our approached are directly aligned with our logic model and address access, perception of risk, and attitude toward use,” Webb said.
CADCA’s Crafting Effective Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Strategies webinar