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$500,000 Grant Extends Reach Of Project Fighting Drug Misuse

“I feel great about what we have been able to do.

The most important aspect of this program is the people we serve in our community. Everything has not unfolded as we thought; actually, it has been better,” White opined.

A second federal grant awarded to a Vidalia-based agency will be used to combat psychostimulant use disorder in Toombs County. The $500,000 grant was received by Leigh-Anne White and Company, which operates the Toombs County Prevention, Treatment and Recovery (TCPTR) project.

The grant is from RCorp Pyschostimulant Support Program and is an extension of the $1 million RCorp OUD/ SUD grant awarded to the company in 2020 to fight Opiod Use Disorder in the community.

“Substance misuse is a serious issue in many of Georgia’s rural counties and Toombs County is no exception,” White said. “Unfortunately, many adults with substance misuse issues are raising young children and making their children victims of the downward negative spiral of intergenerational addiction and its consequences.”

White explained that the target population for the psychostimulant use disorder project is individuals who are at risk for, have been diagnosed with, and/or are in treatment and/or recovery for psychostimulant use disorders, as well as their families or care-givers. Psychostimulants the project will target are illegal drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, or ecstasy, as well as prescription stimulants, such as Adderall and Vyvanse, for conditions such as attention deficit disorder (ADHD) or depression.

“This grant is actually an extension of the previous grant and we are one of the very few (agencies) awarded this grant because of all our success in the first year,” White said. Just in the last three quarters of 2020, the local project helped 740 people.

White explained, “There are three different tiers of the project: prevention, treatment and recovery. We plan to spend a lot more time working with young people to prevent substance use disorder.”

Currently, the project has educators from its office in local schools to conduct group and individual sessions focused on developing leadership skills, character development, and drug use prevention education. Last year the project provided funding for the Teen Maze program in local schools. Traditionally held during prom season when underage drug and alcohol use are heightened issues, Teen Maze is sponsored by Toombs County Family Connection and Tri-County Family Connection and targets area 8th graders. The program focuses on the repercussions of drug misuse and offers pathways for positive decision making. “In the upcoming year, we want to bring Teen Maze to 7th graders, but in a slightly different format. The next year, we want to introduce the program to sixth grade students,” White said.

The TCPTR’s Life Skills program is underway in Toombs County School System’s alternative school, and discussions are underway about fitting the program into the school day at local high schools. “The program is evidencebased and demonstrates to students how to make the best choices,” White said of the initiative’s emphasis on drug misuse prevention.

The new grant will help facilitate the TCPTR’s relationship with educators, including school counselors. “We will be hiring a social worker who will make connections within the community and make appropriate referrals to ensure we don’t have anyone falling through the cracks because they did not get referred for assistance,” White said.

The grant will also fund specialized training for three licensed therapists who will be using a cutting-edge technique called Eye Movement Desensitivation Reprocessing (EMDR) to treat agency clients. “We don’t have anyone within a 60mile radius who provides EMDR,” White said, explaining the treatment is a method for helping people who have sustained trauma, including trauma caused by the effects of substance use disorder. EMDR uses rapid eye movement as an indicator of trauma, and has been highly successful in treating combat veterans.

The funds from the grant will also assist the Faith in Finance Program, which teaches individuals how to manage their finances while trying to get back on their feet. Another outgrowth of the grant will be a Work Readiness program and a parenting project called Love and Logic.

The grant will also enable specialized yoga training, Trauma Informed Yoga Practice, which will be delivered by Paige Williamson. The last grant paid for the Yoga 12-Step Recovery, also known as Y12SR. “We hold trauma in our bodies and yoga can teach us how to release that trauma,” White said.

Since the beginnings of TCPTR with the first grant in 2020, a great deal has been accomplished in the effort to curb and treat substance use disorder and opioid use disorder in the community, including: • Providing Narcan and Narcan training to all law enforcement for Toombs County.

• Oering a free coun selor-led Substance Use Group

• Oering a free Yoga 12-Step Recovery program • Providing free or low- cost individual and family counseling to individuals or family members of individuals suffering from OUD/SUD • Building renovations to include a new handicapaccessible bathroom and parking at the treatment center • Providing Motiva tional Interview Training to all Toombs County PTR staff and Consortium members “I feel great about what we have been able to do. The most important aspect of this program is the people we serve in our community. Everything has not unfolded as we thought; actually, it has been better,” White opined. A broad, multi-sector consortium of some 30 community agencies and leaders including representatives from fire and police, local government, health care and education, is continuing to add members who are working together to find solutions and overcome obstacles. “It is such a beautiful way of seeing our community work together.”

Since 2020, the community has added two drug misuse recovery homes. The new $500,000 grant will provide additional financial assistance to the recovery homes and to the growing recovery community. “I think people are beginning to know where to come to get help for themselves and their families,” White said.

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