Studies show that Harrison County has the highest rate of prescription drug overdose in a 13-county region among those listed in the Governor's Substance Abuse Task Force, but a federal grant may soon help to decrease those numbers.
Project SUCCESS means federal funding towards drug education and awareness, and the Harrison County Prevention Partnership says "prevention" is the operative word.
"There were two counties out of each region selected.One was selected for high rates of underage drinking, one was selected for high rates of prescription drug overdose. Harrison County was the prescription drug overdose," said Elizabeth Shanan of the Harrison County Family Resource Network.
Those alarming statistics gathered by the Harrison County Prevention Partnership meant $123,500 in federal funding for the next five years, from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
"We have new data for every county in the state, and we want to share with Harrison what the data is with alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs," said JoAnne McNemar, a certified prevention specialist for Project SUCCESS.
Those partnerships include building relationships with various task forces, school systems, and, as the Prevention Partnership proved at the Harrison County Mayors' Meeting on Wednesday night, city officials.
"Fighting drugs is going to be a countywide issue because drugs are everywhere, and what we are trying to do tonight is gather information, share information, and hopefully we can help combat this problem," said Mayor Sam DeMarco of Shinnston.
"The city of Clarksburg has been working diligently trying to tackle this problem, we increase our police foot patrols in the neighborhood, and we've encouraged people that did not have neighborhood watch groups in their various communities to form one," said Mayor Cathy Goings of Clarksburg.
The grant will also focus on education in Harrison County's middle and high schools and identify the individual issues that are prevalent at every school.
"You can never have too much education when it comes to drug and substance abuse," said Goings.
Officials are in the process of scheduling more public meetings to get additional feedback before the project officially takes off.
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