A recently-formed coalition of community members concerned about trends in substance abuse and the current opioid epidemic has formalized its group name and mission statement. Now known as Tri-Town FACTS, the group serves Kingston, Halifax and Plympton with a mission to support and strengthen the regional community in a collaborative effort to promote holistic wellness through prevention, education, enforcement, and advocacy, and to empower healthy lifestyle choices. “FACTS” stands for Families, Adolescents, and Communities Together against Substances. It is a brand established by the South Shore Hospital’s Youth Health Connection and used by several coalitions in the surrounding area.
The growing group has brought together 25 – 30 people at initial monthly meetings held in March, April and May, representing parents, teachers, school administrators, students, law enforcement, public safety, behavioral health professionals, faith leaders, grandparents, elected officials and those affected by addiction. The group is seeking new members from all three towns, including volunteers interested in leadership roles who can help advance the mission through initiatives and programs to be developed. Currently chaired by Kingston parent, Amy Belmore, the next meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 7, from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. at the Silver Lake High School Library and is open to all.
A grant provided by the Solstice Foundation has funded the services of an experienced facilitator, Julie Nussbaum, who has assisted in the launch of similar coalitions in the region. Nussbaum, who will work with Tri-Town FACTS until March 2017, said “According to the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, (CADCA), communities that have anti-drug coalitions have lower youth drug and alcohol rates. Furthermore, research has shown that addressing the issue of underage drinking reduces the risk that youth will go on to use opioids and other substances (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2012). I will be taking the coalition through a process that guides the selection, implementation, and evaluation of evidence-based, culturally appropriate, sustainable interventions addressing substance misuse and abuse.”
Steering Committee member, David Kennedy, who also serves on the Kingston Board of Health, recently carried the Coalition’s suggestion to pass a regulation preventing the sale of synthetic marijuana and synthetic drugs in Kingston stores to fellow Board of Health members. Following a public hearing held on May 2 to address the health impacts of Spice, K2, bath salts, and others not meant for human consumption, the Board of Health immediately put the new regulation in place. Said Kennedy “the Synthetic Drug Regulation was discussed back in 2014 within the Board of Health and I am grateful the board wanted to discuss and approve such regulation on May 2. It’s important in the early stages of the Tri-Town Coalition to achieve short-term goals, and clearly this was one. Synthetic drugs are very dangerous and side effects are fatal. Even though the Regulation is important, we need to educate our youth on these drugs and help them make healthy choices.”
The Coalition is currently focused on assessment and data collection, and will be implementing surveys, focus group discussions with students and parents, and interviews with key stakeholders to help guide their next steps. Anyone from Kingston, Halifax and Plympton who wants to learn more or get involved is encouraged to attend the next meeting, or contact tritownFACTS@gmail.com. The group also has a Facebook page and is on Twitter @tritownFACTS.