By Frank Denzler Rushville Republican
---- — During the past 18 months, representatives from “Communities That Care” (CTC) have attended a number of local meetings and met with organizations in an effort to gain insight and local data regarding problems real and perceived regarding substance abuse and other issues.
Rush and Fayette counties were determined by a DCF grant to meet certain criteria and were targeted by the CTC for the organization’s three phase program. The data complied is in regards to alcohol and drug use (two areas targeted by their studies).
According to Keyen Macklin of CTC, the data will be released later this month. The second phase of the program will begin to explain the information to the various contributing organizations. The third and final phase will be to initiate programs to address the issues.
Macklin continued by saying that there are various risks and family conflicts associated with the problems alcohol and drug use cause. The recently concluded study found the largest jump in youth using drugs or alcohol for the first time occurred between the sixth and eighth grade.
“According to the information we have put together, I feel there is a window of opportunity between sixth and eighth grade students that we need to look at. Another problem arises when individuals and peers participate in substance use. Their individual attitude shift toward acceptance placing them at a higher risk,” Macklin said.
She continued by saying that the income level has also taken a dramatic downward turn during the past four years.
“The poverty level is higher in Rush County than it was in 2008,” Macklin said.
CPO of The Rush County Boys & Girls Club Chet Walker said that, in light of many of the finding, it may be difficult to completely remove the problem of Rush County being higher than the state average in many of the areas highlighted by the study.
“We are never going to eliminate it (drug and alcohol issues), but we would like to see it lower here in Rush County,” Walker said.