The Roundup -

Richland County Drug Use Concerns Meeting Held March 11


(photo submitted)

The Richland County Health Department and Communities in Action received the Drug Free Communities grant at the beginning of 2020. This five-year grant will be focused on reducing substance use and misuse among youth, eventually leading to a reduction in the percentage of adults in Richland County reporting binge drinking (24%).

On March 11, the Communities in Action Steering Committee and 24 Sidney High School juniors and seniors met after school to discuss what concerns they see in our community in relation to drug use. Communities in Action partnered with Brad Faulhaber's social science classes to engage local students into the solution.

Participants identified problem statements using local data from the Richland County "Quality of Life" Assessment. Liliana Johnson, an 11th grade SHS student, said "I was really surprised by a lot of the data in the packet we got. Lots of the issues I thought were issues, really weren't. I was surprised at what the data displayed the real issues were." By the end of the meeting the participants used the data to create two problem statements; 1) The problem in Richland County is alcohol accessibility and 2) The problem in Richland County is binge drinking.

Sidney High School students and the Communities in Action Steering Committee members then came up with root causes for each problem statement. Root causes are conditions in the individual's and shared community environments which increase the likelihood that people become involved in substance use. The two most popular root causes identified for both problem statements were social availability and parental favorable attitudes.

The next step was to look at local conditions that contributed to root causes. Local conditions are how the root causes "operate" within the community. In other words, what the behaviors look like. The local conditions that participants identified included: open bars at events, family beer fridges/coolers left unmonitored and the observation that most social gatherings (brandings, graduation parties, family reunions etc.) serve alcohol. Students also cited that there are parents who allow for minors to drink if it's at their house. Students were eager to learn more about what the data meant for our community and how they could help. Sean Earle, 11th grade SHS student, said "I thought that students in high school weren't concerned with drinking being a problem in Richland County. At the meeting, I learned that students and adults in our community actually do care."

With the implementation of the DFC grant, Richland County Communities in Action and the health department are able to address the serious issue of alcohol use in the county. The genuine concern that the SHS students displayed in regards to alcohol use provides reassurance that the upcoming generation wants to see a cultural community change. The coalition is committed to helping the community respond to the needs related to substance use with local resources and involvement in a sustainable way.


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