I am the Program Director for Prevention and Response Columbia County (PARCC), a county coalition that works to reduce alcohol and other drug use in youth under 21 years of age, as well as respond to the needs of those battling an opiate addiction. Our mission is to assist all communities in Columbia County to be engaged in the battle we currently face with opiate addiction. It is important to realize that in our communities there is an opiate addiction crisis fueled by a culture that misuses and abuses alcohol and prescription drugs, and a society that consistently gives youth mixed messages about marijuana and other illicit drugs.

In Columbia County, the PARCC coalition is filled with advocates who are doing everything in their power to reduce drug overdoses, deaths and crisis. This is important because our overdose numbers continue to climb. In 2013 there were 51 drug related overdoses in Columbia County and in 2015 there were 94.

I commend the individuals who are going into the community for educational presentations. I commend families who are learning all they can to be healthy, and are coming to events to pick up lock boxes to keep prescription medication locked up in their homes. I commend everyone who turns out at Drug Take Back events with drugs to dispose of to keep their families safe, and to make sure prescription medication does not end up in landfills and waterways.

I commend the amazing and hardworking law enforcement efforts we have in Columbia County. For many months now, the Sheriff’s Department and many officers from our cities and towns have been tirelessly working together on drug interdiction efforts to do what they can to locate the individuals bringing drugs into our communities. It is important to understand the purpose behind drug interdiction efforts. Drug interdiction by its very definition means “the act of intercepting and preventing the movement of a prohibited commodity, in this case drugs and drug paraphernalia.” Drug interdiction is one of many strategies that work to make our communities safe. There is no way to prevent the movement of the drug distribution if multiple stops of multiple cars is not done. This strategy is similar to going through airport security. We know SOME people MIGHT bring explosives on to an airplane, so we are ALL checked when we go through. That keeps us all safe. It is a little inconvenient, but we do it. If a person is stopped on a drug interdiction evening for a small infraction and they are following the law, they are sent on their way. All stops done are for legitimate and lawful reasons which ensures that there is no profiling. This effort keeps us all safe. We all want communities with nice parks, bike paths, safe places to walk and play. Let’s all cooperate to keep people who are distributing drugs out of our communities. Drug interdiction efforts are done throughout Columbia County in most cities and towns.

I urge you to get involved in PARCC, or at the very least attend a presentation when you see one coming to your area. It takes a village to win the battle against opiate addiction. It takes community members, faith based representatives, elected officials, health care workers, and the list goes on. It takes all of us joining together with our collective voices, resources and ideas.

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