Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Huntington Strategic Plan Targets Drug Abuse

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Huntington Strategic Plan Targets Drug Abuse

Article excerpt

HUNTINGTON - Huntington City Council announced the commencement of a two-year strategic plan to combat drug abuse and disease management in Cabell, Putnam and Kanawha counties during Monday's meeting. The 2015 Strategic Plan, led by the Mayor's Office of Drug Control Policy, was established to eradicate addiction and treat addicted residents with proper healthcare, strengthen law enforcement and opportunities throughout treatment and recovery.

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams said the initiative had been in development since November, beginning with the assembly of the Drug Control Policy committee.

"The vision that was set out nearly a year ago and gained support set out specifically to decrease demand and manage the disease of addiction," Williams said. "The office is led by former police chief Jim Johnson, and what he and his group have done is nothing short of miraculous.

Johnson, director of the Mayor's Office for Drug Control Policy, challenged members of the audience to consider the humans behind the numbers.

"We've defined the problem, and now it's time to turn the page, Johnson said. "We have to attack this with a three-pronged approach; it's got prevention, treatment and law enforcement. We have to find the resources for this trio.

Priorities of the proposal include: expanding community prevention and intervention efforts; reducing the amount of underage drinking and drug use; reducing the number of babies born into an environment of addiction and reducing the spread of blood-borne pathogens through harm reduction programs.

Targeted organizations for early prevention will include the St. John's House, Boys and Girls Clubs throughout the area, and the A.D. Lewis Community Center. Resource tools will be distributed to parents to assist in guiding discussions about drug use with their children.

"The reason there's so much innovation and cooperative action from local, state and federal agencies is because they slowed down and took the time to talk with people, Williams said. …

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