$150K grant for youth opioid prevention awarded to Grand Futures Prevention Coalition | CraigDailyPress.com

$150K grant for youth opioid prevention awarded to Grand Futures Prevention Coalition

The Craig City Council on Tuesday approved a proclamation to recognize Aug. 31 as International Overdose Awareness and Remembrance Day in the city of Craig. The proclamation was brought forward by Karli Bockelman, of Grand Futures Coalition, at the podium, as one of many efforts funded by a new grant.

CRAIG — New resources are available for Northwest Colorado communities working to prevent prescription drug abuse.

According to the 2015 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey results, 14.8 percent of youth age 12 to 18 in Grand, Moffat, and Routt counties have taken a prescription pill without a prescription in their lifetime. These results are 1 percent higher than the state average of 13.7 percent and more than 11 percent higher than the national average of 3.5 percent.

In June, Grand Futures Prevention Coalition was notified by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it had been awarded a three-year grant to address youth opioid prevention.

Grand Futures was the only organization in Colorado to receive the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act grant, an award of $50,000 each year to support youth prevention programming in Grand, Moffat, and Routt counties.

"There are several communities where prescription drug misuse has decreased over the last couple years," said Lindsey Simbeye, executive director of Grand Futures. "However, we've also seen a few communities, including Moffat County, where those numbers have increased. Municipalities where there is community-wide support and better access to resources have seen more positive change, thanks, in large part, to the great efforts already underway through the schools, nonprofit partners, law enforcement, and community members."

Federal funding through the CARA grant will support initiatives including the following.

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• Youth Summit — planned and executed by middle-school to college-age youth for their peers.

• Education opportunities for trusted adults and community members.

• Community events to drive awareness and help de-stigmatize addiction, such as the International Overdose Awareness Day, set for Friday, Aug. 31.

• Additional safe prescription drug disposal sites in each county.

• Development of educational materials for physicians and pharmacies to share with patients.

• Creation of an online resources library.

• Partnership with schools to provide opioid prevention curriculum.

• Development or extension of youth to youth advocacy programs to provide real-world skills for middle- and high-school students, as well as substance prevention curriculum for preschool through fifth grade.

"While Grand Futures is spearheading this work, we are a small organization — only one person in each county — so we rely heavily on partnerships with community members and other groups or organizations working in this realm," Simbeye said. "Substance use and addiction don't discriminate. There is a lot of work to be done, and no one organization can do it. It takes the full community to affect change."

She added that ensuring the community at large is aware of how substance use impacts youth and is a supportive collaborator in the efforts of Grand Futures to prevent it is also important.

"By educating and empowering youth we give them the resources they need to be functioning adults and contributors to society. But if we are not also educating trusted adults and ensuring our community is aware of the issues and doing their part, then we are doing our youth a disservice and often sending mixed messages," Simbeye said. "Substance abuse prevention is a big job and one that saves lives. We all have a role to play in that."

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.