Awareness and action pave the way to recovery |

Awareness and action pave the way to recovery

Shanna B. KoenigMountain Mentors program coordinator

As Recovery Month comes to an end, I hope we as a community can gather the information we’ve learned and use it to move forward. The work of the Drug Free Communities Coalition exposed us to what is really going on in our community with regard to drug and alcohol abuse. We’ve come to know 14-year-old, Angel Bacio, whose struggle with alcohol and drug abuse brings tears to our eyes while empowering and inspiring us to do more.We must maintain the momentum that has developed. This month we’ve also heard stories of young adults dying at universities here in Colorado; both deaths are reported to be alcohol related. It’s unsettling to see where abuse leads. It’s even more unsettling to know how young abuse can start. Most people on the Sept. 21 Drug Free Communities Panel agreed that some youth begin to drink or experiment with drugs at around ages 13 or 14, and sometimes even as young as 10. And that’s not information gathered from metropolitan environments; that’s what happens here in Summit County. However, it appears as a community, we have chosen to believe such things happen only in big cities. When posed the question, “What treatment options are being offered in Summit County?” the panel gave scattered responses. It was challenging for anyone, even professionals on the panel, to directly answer the question. When the discussion turns to intervention and treatment targeted to youth, finding an answer is increasingly difficult. Youth on the panel said their peers were their treatment option here in the county. Parents feel shunned in the county when their child becomes labeled as an abuser, and turn to out-of-town and often out-of-state resources. As stated by a panel member, “Awareness will bring about treatment.” We can no longer deny what’s happening in our community. It was also pointed out, “If the county started a treatment center, it would make a statement.” It may be time for Summit County to send a message that we are not just “Colorado’s Playground,” but a community that cares about and supports its youth in making decisions to lead to their success. This month has made us aware; now it’s time for action. I encourage everyone to become involved with the Drug Free Communities Coalition. The next meeting is Oct. 12 at the Summit County Community and Senior Center near Frisco. Only through education and awareness can we mobilize change in Summit County.

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