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Group fights abuse

Communicare representatives are asking for the community’s help in combating binge drinking, driving under the influence and abuse of prescription drugs mainly by teens and young adults.

Everyone is invited to a community meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Oxford and Lafayette County Public Library.

The meeting’s goal is to form a drug-free coalition, made up of key community leaders, residents, college students, high school students, concerned parents and anyone who would like more information on how they can help protect the area’s young adults and fight underage drinking, binge drinking, illegal and prescription drug abuse and more.

Communicare is the sub-grantee of the Mississippi Department of Mental Health, and received the grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for a substance abuse prevention initiative.

The $700,000 grant funds five-year project.

“During the meeting Thursday we will explain the grant and its purpose,” said Melody Madaris, director of substance abuse at Communicare. “We will tell everyone what will be expected from the coalition, and at the end, we will ask those who attend who might like to serve on the coalition.”

Madaris said if someone doesn’t want to serve on the actual drug-free coalition, they could use their talents in other ways.

“Maybe some can write stories for us for local and social media,” she said. “Someone may be good at graphic arts. We can use every and any kind of volunteer.”

After the coalition is formed, they will begin a needs assessment in the community.

“Once that’s created, we will use that information and choose an evidence-based prevention strategy,” she said. “We will start implementing it throughout the county. We will have to work closely with the local high schools and the University of Mississippi.

Madaris said recent studies show Lafayette County has a “pretty high” number of binge-drinking reports, DUIs and prescription drug addictions.

“We need people from the county to tell us where the big problems are in the county,” she said.

For more information, call Communicare at 662-234-7521.