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‘Conversation’ to focus on prescription abuse

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By Sharon Graves

As a parent, what would you do if you found five or six unknown pills in your child’s pants pocket or dresser drawer? Whom do you call first?

Champions for a Drug Free Carroll County is hosting a Community Conversation at 7 p.m. Monday, March 30, at the National Guard Armory. Organizers hope the meeting will provide answers to those questions and many others regarding the dangers of prescription drug abuse.

Featured speaker will be Dave Sallengs, Drug Enforcement and Professional Practices branch manager for the state of Kentucky, who will provide statistics and other information. Sallengs is responsible for the CASPAR system, which tracks all prescriptions filled across the commonwealth and can be accessed by law enforcement officials and physicians. He also is a registered pharmacist and a sworn law-enforcement officer.

A panel of police officers, doctors and pharmacists will be ready to answer all questions from parents and others from the community who attend.

Champions President Leigh Ann Roberts said the group is a volunteer initiative that brings together anyone interested in working for a drug-free Carroll County; its mission is to educate the community about drug and alcohol abuse and to support safe, healthy activities for youth and families.

Prescription drug abuse is a community problem that needs to be addressed, Roberts said, adding that six or more deaths within the past year can be directly attributed to prescription drug abuse.

Additionally, 68 people in Carroll and surrounding counties were arrested in a law-enforcement sting in November; most of those arrested were charged with trafficking in prescription painkillers.

Police Chief Michael Willhoite, in a March 4, 2009, article in The News-Democrat, said  he believes possibly every case in Circuit Court can be traced back to “drug or alcohol abuse in one way, shape or form.”  

The March 30 event will offer information and support contacts, Roberts said.  

Additionally, Roberts said Champions is also seeking nominations for any individual, business or organization that has stepped up in the fight against drug and alcohol abuse and has had a positive impact on the community through such efforts. Winners will be announced at the Community Conversation.

Nominations may be sent to Champions for a Drug Free Carroll County, 1706 Highland Ave., Carrollton, KY 41008, and must be received by March 20.

Champions meets at 11:30 a.m. on the last Thursday of each month in the community room of the Carroll County Public Library. Anyone interested in the group is invited to attend and get involved.