By: Carol Beck-Round | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: January 2013
Trisha DeLozier, Healthy Community Partnership prevention specialist, and Melynda Stone, Volunteers for Youth executive director, stand in front of the building that houses the two non-profits. The two entities have joined forces to combat substance abuse in Rogers County.
Imagine a two-lane highway with two busloads of community members headed in the same direction. The destination sign ahead reads, “Rogers County, where substance abuse does not exist!” The first bus sports a sign reading “Healthy Community Partnership.” The bus driver is Certified Prevention Specialist Trisha DeLozier. Passengers on DeLozier’s bus represent members of the Healthy Community Partnership, including people from all walks of life and representing diverse sectors of the population (i.e., school administrators, teenagers, law enforcement officers, members of the clergy, parents, business professionals, media representatives, youth-serving organization leaders, civic group members and healthcare professionals). Seated on the bus are also members of an HCP committee called the “RX Task Force.” The bus cargo hold contains suitcases representing projects and initiatives designed to battle the problem of prescription drug misuse among youth and across the lifespan in Rogers County.
Driving another bus alongside the HCP vehicle is Alyson Short, Volunteers for Youth’s Drug Free Communities project director, with the help of her co-worker/navigator Amy Graham (prevention specialist). Since the Drug Free Communities grant operates in partnership with HCP, many of her passengers are the same. This connection between the two busses allows seat swaps as needed. A few additional passengers ride this bus because some of the suitcases also represent projects and strategies designed to reduce underage drinking as well as prescription drug misuse among Rogers County youth.
Mendy Stone, executive director of Volunteers for Youth, uses this analogy to explain the partnership that has developed between her agency and HCP. “By bringing diversity to the table and pooling our resources with law enforcement, schools, youth organizations, the health department and more,” says Stone, “we can battle this problem together.”
Through state, federal and Cherokee Nation grants, the two entities have been able to integrate their goals to fight substance abuse in Rogers County. "Healthy Community Partnership was founded on prevention, and that is also the basis of all our efforts at Volunteers for Youth," Stone added.
While Volunteers for Youth's DFC project focuses on underage drinking and substance abuse in youth, Healthy Community Partnership has been mainly focused on prescription drug misuse among youth and adults since its formation in 2008. “We work closely with the Drug Free Communities project director, the Rogers County Sheriff’s office, local police departments, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, nine Rogers County schools, graduated sanctions and juvenile court (county and city), Rogers County Youth Services, and many others in the community,” DeLozier says. “We are fortunate to have been able to bring various groups to the HCP table in an effort to work together as one cohesive unit instead of several different organizations working independently.”
While many associate abuse with illicit drugs, DeLozier cites the following figures: “Only 13 percent of Oklahoma's drug overdose deaths involve illicit drugs. According to the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s office, there were 872 fatal overdoses related to prescription drug abuse in 2010 and 2,500 nonfatal overdoses,” she says. “However, for the first six months of 2011, there were 794 fatal overdoses.” According to DeLozier, 94 percent of those fatal overdoses involved the mixing of drinks with prescription drugs. “It’s a deadly combination,” she adds.
What people don’t realize, says DeLozier, is that “if it is not your prescription, it’s not okay to take it. It’s not safe. It’s not legal. It’s not acceptable.” Educating the public about the dangers is a top priority for DeLozier. “Many mistakenly believe it’s okay to share prescriptions, but it’s not. By pooling our resources, we can collectively have a chance to make environmental changes in our communities.” Through grants and partnerships, these two entities hope to one day say, “Substance abuse does not exist in Rogers County.”
After 30 years in public school education, Carol Round retired and moved from Grand Lake to Claremore, Oklahoma in 2005, where she writes a weekly faith-based column which runs in 14 Oklahoma newspapers as well as several national and international publications. Three volumes of her columns have been compiled into collections: A Matter of Faith, Faith Matters and by FAITH alone. She has also written Journaling with Jesus: How to Draw Closer to God and a companion workbook, The 40-Day Challenge. This past year she has written three children’s books, a series called Nana’s 3 Jars, to teach children about the value of giving, saving and spending money. All of Carol’s books are available through Amazon. In addition to writing her weekly column, authoring books and speaking to women’s groups, she writes for Value News. She also blogs regularly at www.carolaround.com. When she is not writing or speaking, she loves spending time with her three grandchildren, working in her flowerbeds, shooting photos, volunteering at her church or going on mission trips overseas, and hiking. She is also an avid reader and loves working crosswords and trying to solve Sudoku puzzles.