Amy Haskins, with the Jackson County Anti-Drug Coalition, was the guest speaker at the Ripley Rotary Club’s weekly meeting held in the Learning Center at Jackson General Hospital on Wednesday, Oct. 2.
Haskins explained the importance of the Anti-Drug Coalition and how they have impacted the community over the past 10 years.
The JCADC has received a $125,000 per year grant from the Drug-Free Communities Program through the Federal Government each year for the past 10 years. These funds were distributed to the organization in order to work on substance abuse and prevention for youth 18-years-old and younger.
“This is why our main focus has been in the schools, Haskins said.
Haskins noted that the JCADC has had numerous successes and highlighted a few of those for the group.
According to Haskins, the JCADC took part in getting the K2 bill passed in West Virginia, which outlawed the ordering, selling, or distribution of synthetic drugs, such as K2, spice, and bath salts in the state.
Jackson County was the first county to have a mobile incinerator in the state due to the efforts of the JCADC.
Haskins said when the collection of un-needed or un-used medication started in the state, there became the issue of what to do with the medications collected.
“At the time, Sheriff Bright and I worked to get the incinerator for Jackson County,” Haskins said. “It was a two year process.”
Once they were able to receive the incinerator for Jackson County, the JCADC then worked with the the State Police and the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office to have 10 regional incinerators added across the state.
The JCADC Youth Coalition was successful in passing Tobacco Free Park ordinances.
Haskins said she has personally represented the JCADC at a Drug Free Grantee celebration at the White House with the President. She has also testified on Capitol Hill three times, showcasing Jackson County and their efforts with the Anti-Drug Coalition.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published information on the JCADC and the success they have had in West Virginia, according to Haskins.
They have worked on local policies for schools and businesses allowing both entities to work on best practices around substance abuse and prevention with their employees.
Through the JCADC, Haskins has gone into classrooms around Jackson County and discussed different types of substances and the damage they cause to a person’s health.
The Pride Survey is one way the JCADC has collected information on substances that impact the youth of Jackson County. It is a survey given to students in grades 5-12, with parental permission. The survey is measured by student perception based on 30-day usage of whether a drug is a moderate or great risk, student perception of their parents disapproval of a substance, and finally student perception on the availability of a particular substance.
Haskins says based on the survey, alcohol consumption and e-cigarettes are two of the big issues facing Jackson County youth today.
The item that is making the largest impact on kids is the electronic cigarette, according to Haskins.
According to Wikipedia, an electronic cigarette or e-cigarette is a handheld battery-powered vaporizer that simulates smoking and provides some of the behavioral aspects of smoking, including the hand-to-mouth action of smoking, but without burning tobacco. Using an e-cigarette is known as “vaping” and the user is referred to as a “vaper.”
In her classroom discussions, Haskins goes over the different types of e-cigarettes, such as the Juul, as well as the flavor options and effects it all has on the health of the student and those around them.
Youth often believe that the liquid used in vaping or Juuling only contains water and flavoring and are unaware that it also contains nicotine.
“One Juul pod is equal to one whole pack of cigarettes,” Haskins said.
The survey also indicated the use of illicit drugs, such as methamphetamines, cocaine, and heroin are on the rise. These are items that Haskins said the JCADC is going to start hitting heavily in their continued efforts to raise awareness in the youth of Jackson County.
“I think the biggest success we have had in the last 10 years has been the building of the relationships that we have,” Haskins said. “Without the partners we have on a monthly basis or with projects we have done throughout the years, there is no way we could have been as successful.”
In other business:
• Rotary President Steve Westfall announced that the Ripley Rotary Club has gained six new members so far this year.
• Oct. 17 is the Jackson County Community Foundation annual dinner with Joe Theismann as the special guest speaker.
• Nov. 9 will be the Jackson General Hospital Gala.
• The Jackson County Players will be presenting “Blithe Spirit” on Oct. 19, 20, 26, and 27 at the Alpine Theatre.