Community groups identify substance abuse concerns

By Brooke Binns

Staff Writer

ELKINS — Local service providers met Monday to discuss issues surrounding substance abuse in the area.

Shannon Jones, a community engagement specialist from United Summit Center in Clarksburg, explained the group is working to collect data from counties around the state to identify what services are offered and any gaps in services. Then the group helps to fill those gaps.

A number of organizations in the local community were represented during Monday’s round-table discussion. Representatives from Youth Health Services Inc., Randolph County Schools, Randolph County Commission, Department of Health and Human Resources, Youth Build, the City of Elkins and other local organizations took part in the discussion with officials from United Summit Center.

Representatives made note of problems related to treatment for substance abuse in the area. They also made suggestions to United Summit Center officials for dealing with certain issues.

Michelle Phares, program manager for YouthBuild North Central in Elkins, stated one issue she has observed is people oftentimes do not have the monetary means to pay for treatment for themselves.

Tammie Rizzio, of Youth Health Services Inc. in Elkins, noted many people have transportation issues that prevent them from receiving treatment.

Elkins Police Department Special Investigator J.C. Raffety and other discussion participants said different education options, such as vocational training or other youth programs, could help to steer young adults from going down the wrong pathway.

“Most school teachers say we need to put more money into vocational training, because we know young adults who were not interested in more education in the sense of college but went into vocational courses and got jobs in the field,” Raffety said.

In addition, others said when young adults take part in alcoholic or narcotics anonymous meetings, they do not always feel welcome. Establishing separate meetings could be beneficial, they noted.

Jones did make note of funding that is available through mental health facilities to assist with the payment of bills for families.

“It’s called the Community Engagement Specialist Fund, and it comes from the state,” Jones said. “You talk with the community engagement specialist at your local mental health facility. … Parents, sometimes if they realize they can’t pay their bills and they have four kids, of course they’re going to fall back to the alcohol and say, ‘How am I going to deal with it? I’ll just drink my way though it or do drugs to get through it.’

“That’s not the way to do it; there are funds available, and what they need to do is go to the local mental health facility,” Jones added.

The Randolph County Family Resource Network provided a list of “immediate” substance abuse treatment services in Randolph County.

Treatment services for overcoming addiction include:

• Rivers Victory Group meets every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at Rivers of Living Water Ministries in Elkins

• Grace Episcopal Church in Elkins hosts narcotics anonymous meetings every Wednesday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 8 p.m.; alcoholics anonymous meetings take place there every Monday at 7 p.m., every Tuesday at 8 p.m. and every Wednesday at noon

• Davis Memorial Presbyterian Church in Elkins hosts Al-anon meetings every Wednesday at 7 p.m.

• St. Brendan’s Catholic Church in Elkins hosts AA meetings every Wednesday at 8 p.m.

• Russell Memorial Public Library in Mill Creek hosts AA meetings every Monday at 7 p.m.

The FRN also provided providers with the Mountain Region Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force tip line, which is 304-636-8477.