Coplin's $1 million grant to help adolescents and young adults facing drug abuse

Katelyn Waltemyer
Jackson Newspapers
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In 2020, six people ages 0 to 19 were treated for suspected overdoses by emergency medical services in Jackson County. That year Jackson County had the second-lowest overdose death rate in the state at 24 per 100,000. The highest was Cabell County at 163 per 100,000. 

Coplin Health Systems was just awarded a $1 million grant to expand substance abuse treatment, prevention and recovery. The organization will focus the money on 12 to 25-year-olds. 

The funding will be spread across nine counties, including Jackson. Several organizations, like Jackson County Schools and the county's drug court, will partner with Coplin to raise awareness.

Sarah Barton, the Senior Projects Manager with Coplin Health Services, said the money may go toward teaching school staff members how to screen for students who may be at risk or already using drugs. 

Jackson County Schools 

This isn't the first time Coplin and the county school system are joining forces. Blaine Hess, the county's superintendent, said Jackson County Schools has worked with Coplin for several years with student mental and physical health. 

When Coplin reached out to him to gauge his support when the grant was being drafted he said he didn't want to miss an opportunity to help students, especially with screenings. 

The screening process is called SBIRT, which stands for Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment is the model Coplin follows. This method is recommended by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and is said to allow for early intervention. 

After the screenings, people are able to join a trauma-informed discussion group. Barton said these groups are lead by therapists who create an open dialogue for participants to share their thoughts and experiences. 

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During the screening process and discussion groups, trained individuals will be on the lookout for Adverse Childhood Experiences. These experiences may vary from neglect to physical abuse or seeing drug abuse or violence at home. 

These adverse experiences are linked to chronic health conditions, mental illnesses and substance abuse, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

This grant will help the county take a proactive approach in addressing drug use and abuse in young people, Barton said. 

"We have so many adults, dealing with substance use disorder and families who are dealing with the impacts of substance use disorder in Jackson County," Barton said. "Our youngest resident needs support."

— Katelyn Waltemyer (she/her) is the General Assignment and Enterprise Reporter for Jackson Newspapers in Jackson County, West Virginia. Have a news tip on local government or education? Or a good feature? You can reach Katelyn at kwaltemyer@jacksonnewspapers.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kate_Waltemyer.