PRESTONSBURG – The Floyd County Chamber of Commerce held a networking luncheon meeting on July 12 at Reno’s in Prestonsburg. The topic for this luncheon was combating illegal drug use in our community. During the luncheon, two speakers from UNITE focused on how education and treatment can bring a positive impact to a community’s drug culture. Nancy Hale, CEO of Operation UNITE, reviewed UNITE’s mission to rid communities of illegal drug use and how substance abuse problems can devastate families and communities. Debbie Trusty, Education & Treatment Director for UNITE, provided information on educational programs and treatment options available through UNITE.
Hale indicated that Kentucky’s drug overdose rate is more than 1.5 times higher than the national average and that every 20 minutes someone in the United States dies from an opioid overdose. Hale, a career educator with Rockcastle County public schools, said that prevention education is the key to reducing the substance abuse problem for future generations. She described several youth UNITE programs: UNITE Clubs – school clubs that give students the opportunity to practice peer pressure resistance skills while promoting leadership skills; Camp UNITE – a four-day, three-night free camp for at-risk middle school age children; and the National Archery school program. Eight archery programs in Floyd County are sponsored though UNITE funding distributed by the Floyd County UNITE Coalition CADA (Citizens Against Drug Abuse). Hale also discussed the “I Am UNITE” scholarships which are available to high school seniors in the 5th Congressional District.
Hale emphasized another UNITE program called “Give Me a Reason.” This is a partnership program with A-HIDTA (Appalachian High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) and provides free drug testing kits to parents. The kits are available at Floyd County high school and middle school Family Resource Youth Centers, the Eula Hall Health Center, Floyd County Health Department and Big Sandy ADD. Hale stated, “this program gives youth another tool to resist peer pressure because they know their parents will drug test them.”
Following Hale’s discussion, Trusty, a career social worker and Floyd County native, described many of the UNITE initiatives available. She stressed how important it is that the public know the many treatment options available for substance misuse. She emphasized the importance of UNITE’s toll-free treatment referral/information line which operates Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. That number is 1-866-908-6483. UNITE receives calls from all over Kentucky as well as the nation from individuals seeking information on treatment options (both residential and outpatient), recovery groups or simply information about how to talk to a loved one about addiction. Trusty stated that Floyd County was extremely fortunate to have two residential drug treatment facilities – Hope in the Mountains and the Mountain Center for Recovery and Hope. Trusty discussed the importance of Casey’s Law. This law provides a means of intervening with someone who is unable to recognize his or her need for treatment. This law allows parents, relatives and/or friends to petition the court for treatment on behalf of the substance abuse-impaired person.
Trusty also discussed UNITE’s Drug Free Workplace Training that is provided free to any business wanting to education their employees about addiction. In addition to understanding addiction, the training emphasizes how to recognize drug use at the workplace, employee and employer responsibilities related to work safety, the costs of drug use on the job to business and industry, discussion of company EAP’s or drug testing policies, and community resources to help.
Both Hale and Trusty stressed the importance of an active Floyd County UNITE coalition. Each county in UNITE’s 32 county region has an anti-drug community coalition that works to implement education and treatment initiatives while supporting UNITE’s investigative component. The Floyd County coalition meets the third Tuesday of every month.
Information about UNITE treatment and education programs (adult & youth), scholarship opportunities, county coalitions, Casey’s Law, drug testing kits, telephone help line, treatment voucher program and the drug tip line can be found on the UNITE website operationunite.org . Additional information can be obtained by calling the Big Sandy UNITE Office at 606-889-0422.
Following the presentation, Chamber business representatives were given the opportunity to highlight activities and events in Floyd County and at their businesses. If interested in becoming a member of the Floyd County Chamber of Commerce, contact the Chamber office at (606) 886-0364 or email [email protected] .