Carter County Drug Prevention to add second coalition for younger members

Published 8:17 am Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Carter County Drug Prevention, after a two-year, peer centered focus group study, will be adding a junior coalition to its community alcohol, tobacco and drug prevention lineup. The addition will be geared toward elementary school aged children.

The Carter County Drug Prevention group, which is overseen by its director, Jilian Reece, was comprised of two independent subgroups, referred to as the adult and youth coalitions.

According to Reece, the need for the new junior coalition was discovered after a study showed that many addicts started using when they were in elementary school.

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Drug use in such an early stage in a child’s life makes it more difficult for them to stop. While Reece said she was not aware of any specific drug that is used most, the focus study revealed it is usually substances that are more easily accessible, such as marijuana, cigarettes and alcohol.

“What happens is the science shows us that one in four people are more prone to addiction…so when one of four of the kids start with something small, once they get a taste of it, it’s very hard for them to stop,” said Reece.

The new coalition will be peer led because kids are more likely to listen to other kids.

“We recognize that peer led strategies are often more accepted than say me standing front of a group of teenagers. So, we really like to empower youth to talk to peers and talk to their friends,” said Reece.

The drug prevention group will kick off the junior coalition by hosting a summer camp during the week of July 29 to August 2, where first through fifth graders will be invited. On the last day of the scheduled camp, the participants will be extended the opportunity to mentor kids their age about drug use and its prevention.

“In Elizabethton, football is life,” said Reece. It is because of this the group also plans to ask players from the popular Pee Wee Junior Elizabethton Cyclones football team to help with the preventive effort. So far players Nolan, Lennox, and Carter have signed on to help.

Persons who want to help or are struggling with addiction can reach out to Carter County Drug Prevention by calling 423-342-8008.