Alliance hosts free seminar about meth crisis

City Commissioner Larry Conder

The Alliance for a Drug-Free Owensboro and Daviess County discussed Wednesday its upcoming community seminar titled "Meth Crisis in Our Community."

The event, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 10 at Sts. Joseph & Paul Catholic Church's parish hall, 609 E. Fourth St., is free to the public.

Forum panelists are Sgt. Michael Nichols, Owensboro Police Department Street Crimes Unit; Danielle Thurman, peer recovery support specialist; RonSonlyn Clark, senior director of substance use and prevention services at RiverValley Behavioral Health, and Daviess County District Judge Lisa Jones.

So much information about substance use today centers around the opioid crisis, said Owensboro City Commissioner Larry Conder. He sits on the Alliance steering committee along with some other elected officials.

"Our issue is methamphetamine," Conder said.

Meth from other countries is so cheap now it can sometimes be purchased for less than the price of a 12-pack of beer, he said. Because the price is so low, it has become the drug of choice.

He is sponsoring the upcoming seminar and came to the Alliance's working committee meeting Wednesday as an advocate for the forum.

Clark sits on the Alliance's steering and working committees.

"There are all kinds of costs involved with our meth problem," she said.

People who use illegal drugs suffer health consequences, which have medical costs. However, families and children are affected. Also, businesses suffer from higher absenteeism and employees who show up for work under the influence of drugs.

Food will be provided at the event.

In other business, the Alliance's action teams discussed:

• Prescription drugs — This action team wants to create more awareness about the proper disposal of unused medications. If they remain in medicine cabinets, they are within easy grasp of family, friends and burglars.

State officials report that about 80% of heroin users became addicted by abusing prescription pills.

In 2017, Attorney General Andy Beshear launched the Kentucky Opioid Disposal Program. Since then, he has traveled the state handing out easy-to-use disposal packets.

RVBH has some and has been looking for ways to distribute them, said Diane McFarling, an Alliance member. The group discussed events, such as Senior Day Out, where the packets could be doled out.

Also, McFarling plans to gather a list that provides the location of prescription drug drop boxes in the area. The Alliance would like to increase the number of drop boxes.

Also, the group talked about a 10-week, evidence-based program titled "Too Good for Drugs," which the Alliance plans to make available to area schools. Two Alliance members will be trained and will be able to teach school officials who can spread the message among their students.

• Alcohol — This action team hopes to find a grant to pay for plastic wristbands for every eighth grader in Daviess County.

The wristbands would have a message that shares an alcohol- and drug-free message.

"We want to be a presence in the schools," said Jeff Howard.

The action team hopes to distribute the wristbands during Red Ribbon Week, which is Oct. 23-31. Red Ribbon Week is a national prevention awareness campaign that steers kids away from alcohol, drugs, tobacco and violence.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the average age of first alcohol use in the U.S. was 14 in 2003.

"People who reported starting to drink before the age of 15 were four times more likely to also report meeting the criteria for alcohol dependence at some point in their lives," the institute reported.

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, rbeasleyjones@messenger-inquirer.com

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