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Unicoi County Prevention Coalition – Community forums

By Christy Smith

We are switching gears this month to focus on community forums. For the Unicoi County Prevention Coalition to be effective we need input and collaboration from our community. The coalition works with its members and partners to create effective plans that will help reduce underage drinking, tobacco use, including vaping, as well as prescription medication misuse and abuse. Forums are essential in addressing community health disparities and risks.

Every Spring the coalition plans a community forum. Forums are open conversations that help find local solutions to our community’s substance abuse problems. In the past we have had forums on the opioid epidemic. Next year, we plan to have two forums – one for parents on underage drinking and vaping, and the second forum on opioid prevention, stigma, and harm reduction.

During forums, a panel of experts speaks about the data, dangers, risks, and realities of substance abuse within the community. Educating the public is key to reducing health risks. Concerns associated with substance abuse are also addressed such as suicide prevention and mental health. It is important for communities to attend open forums to address the issues within as well as provide input on how to reduce substances.

Forums always have resource booths from local and regional organizations that share their services within the community. Volunteers are always needed at forums to help with setup and food services. Refreshments are usually provided since most forums are scheduled in the evenings.

The coalition will advertise the community forums in The Erwin Record and on its Facebook page early next spring. The more people attend forums, the better health outcomes the community will see.

If you would like to work with the coalition or become a member, please call 735-8407 or stop by the office at 105 Rock Creek Road Ste. 4. The office is open Monday-Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

If you need a Unicoi County Family Resource Book and Prescription Lock Boxes stop by the office. Next month, we will talk about the opioid overdose outbreak during COVID-19. Until then, stay safe and healthy.