County works to address drug abuse issues |

County works to address drug abuse issues

The first meeting of the Nevada County Substance Abuse Advisory Board (NCSAAB) was held on Jan. 14. Judging by the attendance and the media coverage leading up to the meeting, the issue of substance abuse is important to many people in Nevada County.

The tragic death of a UPS driver in January, killed in a car accident allegedly caused by a man with a history of drug use, further emphasizes the need for strong prevention, treatment and education programs related to substance abuse.

As you may recall, the NCSAAB was established last fall, through a resolution by the Board of Supervisors establishing a Substance Abuse Advisory Board separate from the Mental Health Advisory Board (MHAB). Up until then, substance abuse issues fell under the purview of the MHAB, a board that was already inundated with mental health treatment issues. The two boards will still maintain a liaison that addresses overlapping issues between substance abuse and mental illness.

As a Board of Supervisors-established and appointed advisory board, the NCSAAB is tasked with reviewing and evaluating the county’s substance abuse needs, services, facilities, and special problems, and advising the Board of Supervisors and the county executive officer as to any aspect of the issue of substance abuse in Nevada County. It must also submit an annual report to the Board of Supervisors on substance abuse in Nevada County, including recommendations for addressing it, and the adequacy of existing approaches.

The NCSAAB consists of county staff members from the Behavioral Health Department, courts, and law enforcement; citizens from the community with backgrounds in education, senior programs, and substance abuse programs and services; and someone who has been a consumer of these programs.

The sheriff made a presentation regarding the history, findings, and recommendations of the Methamphetamine Task Force. One of the biggest outcomes of this meeting was the creation of three task forces that will study and make recommendations on education, treatment and enforcement. The enforcement task force will now take over the activities of the Methamphetamine Task Force.

You may also recall that the Lovett Recovery Center almost closed its doors last year due to funding cuts. Upon reviewing the operating costs and procedures for the center, it was very apparent that the cost of doing business under the realm of “Nevada County government” was quite exorbitant. Therefore, as of June 30, the Lovett Recovery Center will be operated outside of the county’s management, perhaps by a nonprofit organization.

The Save the Lovett Center committee recommended that the county accept proposals for management of the center. Representatives from the NCSAAB were selected to serve on a committee that will review the submittals in response to a request for proposal to manage the Lovett Recovery Center.

Another topic of discussion was how citizens can tackle substance abuse problems and develop solutions in their neighborhoods. I believe Nevada County residents can make a huge difference just by paying attention to the activity in their neighborhood and by looking out for each other, coordinating Neighborhood Watch programs with law enforcement, providing activities for at-risk youth, and collaborating to address situations that are unique to each neighborhood.

The California Department of Justice has just completed a handbook titled “Effective Anti-Drug Coalitions” that will be available to neighborhood groups. The Board of Supervisors has agreed to each address substance abuse issues in their town hall meetings.

Again, it must be stressed, if you notice or suspect drug activity, such as using, manufacturing or selling methamphetamine in your neighborhood, please take a moment to call the Sheriff’s Narcotics Tip Line at 265-4178, or the Narcotics Investigation Unit at 478-7987.

Amidst serious public safety budget cuts, together the residents of Nevada County can tackle this critical problem head-on and make our community a safer and better place to live, work and raise our children.

If you are an addicted user, please seek help by contacting the Nevada County Department of Behavioral Health at 265-1437. While we are currently looking at improving Nevada County programs, the Behavioral Health Department can link you to support groups, counseling services and other intervention programs available to you.

Robin Sutherland is a Nevada County supervisor from District 4.

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