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River Valley coalition seeks data on drug use
RUMFORD -- The River Valley Healthy Communities Coalition is seeking data from area residents in order to get a grant to combat drug use.
RVHCC staff will conducting one-on-one interviews, Patty Duguay, coalition executive director, said in a news release. The interviewees are invited to share their thoughts, opinions and experiences to the extent that they feel comfortable, she said.
"Details of specific conversations are not shared," Duguay said. "Instead, we are looking for common themes, concerns, ideas, etc. Our goal is to talk to a diverse and large group of people so that we can really understand the culture, norms and values in the community."
For several years, RVHCC has partnered with community groups, agencies and individuals on successful initiatives to prevent youth substance use.
"While the members of this committee understand the community in many ways, we recognize that we can’t develop strategies that will work in the River Valley without input from the larger community," Duguay said.
"Every community is unique. The strategies and interventions that work well to prevent youth substance use in one place may not work in another."
She said the coalition is focusing on assessment and capacity building while hoping to eventually obtain a Drug Free Communities grant to support its work.
A comprehensive community assessment will look at many data sources, including the statewide student survey, law enforcement data, and parent and community surveys.
One statewide student survey published last year revealed that River Valley area high school students ranked at or above statewide
levels for alcohol and drug abuse.
Of the students who participated in the 2011 Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey, 62.6 percent admitted to lifetime alcohol use, compared to 59.4 percent in Maine, according to statistics provided by Duguay.
Twenty-eight percent admitted to 30-day alcohol use, which matched the state percentage. Another 17.1 percent admitted to participating in a 30-day drinking binge. That's up slightly from the 16.9 percent of Maine students who took the survey.
The statistics also showed that 37.3 percent of River Valley area high school students admitted being lifetime marijuana users, compared to 36.4 percent statewide.
Another 23.7 percent admitted 30-day marijuana use, compared to 22.1 percent for Maine.
River Valley area high school students admitting lifetime drug use was 15.9 percent, compare to 14.6 percent for Maine, while only 7.5 percent of River Valley students admitted using drugs for 30 days. That's up 0.4 percent from high school students statewide.
And that's a big reason why the RVHCC is trying to work toward creating a drug-free community, Duguay said.
Last year, the coalition formed a Youth Substance Use Prevention Task Force. It is currently building on this foundation and hopes to expand its efforts, Duguay said.
The RVHCC Task Force includes representatives from many sectors – schools, law enforcement, youth organizations, churches, parents, health care providers and more.
To participate in an interview, people are asked to contact Duguay at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 364-7408.