Relationships key to preventing addiction

Prevention is more important than it has ever been!! What exactly does it mean to prevent something and how do we apply this to drug/alcohol use/abuse and our youth. As parents, our goal is to help our kids grow into happy, healthy, successful young people with nothing getting in our way.

We were not prepared for this world; this world where drugs are taking the lives of our kids, our future, our community. Everyday!

If your child had any disease you would go to the ends of the earth to make them better. This drug epidemic is chronic too, and sometimes every distance you go to make it better is not enough. People fall down every day, but drug addiction relapse is hard to understand for most of us. Far too many of us think that people can just stop using, “if they really want to.” If it were only that simple.

In Washington County we have finally passed a Mental Health Levy. I know there was hard work done by their board members, but I like to think it is also because we all know someone who is living with addiction/mental health issues and we want to help them get their lives back. We have all been touched by this disease either in our own family, friends and our neighbors. It isn’t going to get better until we all work together, taking a piece of the puzzle and building it to reflect a healthy community.

The Right Path for Washington County has been around since 2003. Our lofty goal/mission is to promote healthy youth development. Over the years we have evolved from a primary focus of being in our schools to a more broad-based community piece; offering alternative activities to 6th-12th grade youth, i.e., social activities and opportunities for community service. We are best known for Tuesday night dances in the summer, partnering with Marietta College and the YMCA. On Friday nights we team up with the City of Marietta for family swim nights, encouraging/allowing families an affordable night out together, having fun!! Our Righditarod, our own shopping cart race against hunger, allows youth to give back to their communities in a way far too many of them understand: what it means to be hungry. All proceeds from this event are shared with our local food pantries and the Harvest of Hope.

Eve, Inc. has a presence in many of our schools, offering a prevention curriculum, and the Washington County Health Dept. has STAND groups in schools offering tobacco prevention alternatives and education. More pieces of our puzzle. Identifying ways to increase drug-free school clubs help youth find more ways to belong to their school family.

If you want to know my definition of prevention it is simple: Relationships!! We all need strong healthy support mechanisms in place to ensure that when we do fall down, someone who cares will be there to pick us back up and show us how to pick ourselves up, to be self-sufficient. Relationships; where would any of us be without them.

Let’s help our youth build those relationships that count. And let’s help those in Recovery, receiving treatment or any services, know that building strong healthy relationships is the best way to begin our community’s journey to the health of mind, spirit and body that our community deserves!!

Cathy Harper, on behalf of families and the Right Path, a United Way Agency