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Group addressing substance abuse
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As a part of the Bryan County Family Connection community collaborative, a local Drug Free Coalition is being developed to address substance abuse initially among youth and overtime the entire community.

Members of the local coalition have met to review data and develop mission and purpose statements. The process includes strategy development, capacity building, increasing awareness and implementation.

One of the first major issues is the National Red Ribbon Week campaign. Red Ribbon Week is the oldest and largest drug presentation campaign in the county, more importantly perhaps it commemorates the ultimate sacrifice made by a DEA Special Agent who died at the hands of drug traffickers. This week of celebration serves as a vehicle for communities and individuals to take a stand for the hopes and dreams of our children through a commitment to drug prevention and education and a personal commitment to live drug free lives with the ultimate goal being the creation of a drug free America.

Bryan County has taken the Surgeon General’s call to action very seriously.

This call to action appeals to all Americans to do more to stop underage drinking and to keep young people from stating. According, to General Kenneth Moritsugus, M.D., M.P.H "too may Americans consider underage drinking a rite of passage to adult hood," he further states that "research show that young people who start drinking before the age of 15 are five times more likely to have alcohol-related problems later in life. "

The action plan lays out recommendations for government, school officials, parents, young people and businesses. The goals are: (1) Foster changes in society that facilitate healthy adolescent development and that help prevent and reduce underage drinking. (2) Promote an understanding of underage alcohol consumption in the context of human development and maturation that takes into account individual characteristics, environment, ethnic, cultural and gender differences. (3) Work to improve public health surveillance on underage drinking and on population based risk factors. (4) Work to ensure that policies are consistent with the goal of preventing and reducing underage alcohol consumption. (5) Engage parents, schools, communities, all levels of government, all social systems that interface with youth, youth themselves in a coordinated effort to prevent and reduce underage drinking and its consequences.

In an effort to engage a variety of community representatives, we invite you to be a part of the Bryan County Drug Free Coalition. The group will meet on Monday Oct. 22 at the Richmond Hill Sheriff's Complex located on Hwy. 17 just past the city limits headed west bound.

For more information about the coalition efforts please contact Gini Nichols, Coalition Chairperson @ 912-572-5778 or me at @ 912-756-3602.

Jennings is Bryan County's Family Connections coordinator.

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