For the past 25 years, the Porter County Substance Abuse Council has made it their mission to reduce youth and adult substance abuse by assessing for, promoting through, and educating about effective community-based programs. Director Beatrice Owen says they fund grants to services in the community as mandated by the state through the Governor’s Commission for a Drug-Free Indiana.
Owen explains, “Dollars are collected from DUI convictions and drug interdictions so those fees are captured and we grant fund those dollars out to our members on a yearly basis.”
She says that $159,000 has been granted this fiscal year to 40 members who work to combat substance abuse such as police departments and the Porter County Sheriff Department, schools in Porter County, treatment facilities, and youth organizations such as Boys & Girls Clubs and the YMCAs in Porter County. “Our goal is to reduce substance abuse by youth and adults in Porter County,” Owen says.
Funds are granted to programs in three areas to cover the entire continuum of the substance abuse issue—prevention/awareness, treatment/intervention, and law enforcement/justice.
“It’s a continuum of programs, beginning with children at a young age to prevent and raise awareness of substance abuse, but if they do use then later on we want to intervene and provide treatment, and if they continue to abuse and come up against the law, law enforcement and justice will step in. That’s the way it was originally planned by Governor Bayh and there are 92 of these coalitions across the state, each a little different, who are working toward that same goal. Here at home we address the needs of Porter County,” Owen says.
The Porter County Substance Abuse Council also oversees two groups that target specific areas of substance abuse—the Drunk Driving Task Force, and the Red Ribbon Campaign. Owen says, “The Drunk Driving Task Force is a program to educate youth and adults on the dangers and impact of drunk driving. We have police officers who go into the high schools, especially during prom time, to talk about this epidemic. One way they do this is with special goggles and golf carts to have students drive an impairment course. The Drunk Driving Task Force also sponsors patrols on the road to pull over drunk drivers, and they have a website with information. We also do the Red Ribbon Campaign which is a program for awareness of drug use. Last year we had all the school superintendents in Porter County work with us to create lesson plans for sixth through eighth grade to coincide with Red Ribbon Week which was interdisciplinary. We also have a scholarship program that goes along with that and poster and placemat contests. We have helped fund the K-9 units for the police departments and we have also sponsored prescription drop boxes throughout the county. In 2012 these boxes collected 2,624 pounds of prescription drugs.”