Drug Awareness Group Hopes to Expand Coalition

In 2011, the Armstrong County Sheriff's Department co-sponsored a series of drug awareness meetings in local communities. Those meetings have led to the formation of crime watch programs, and the Armstrong Indiana Clarion Drug and Alcohol Commission hopes to expand efforts and create a Drug Free Communities Coalition. (KP File Photo)

In 2011, the Armstrong County Sheriff’s Department co-sponsored a series of drug awareness meetings in local communities. Those meetings have led to the formation of crime watch programs, and the Armstrong Indiana Clarion Drug and Alcohol Commission hopes to expand efforts and create a Drug Free Communities Coalition. (KP File Photo)

by Jonathan Weaver

More than 40 fatal drug overdoses occurred in Armstrong County in 2016.

But, in addition to the efforts of County Coroner Brian Myers, municipal police agencies and emergency medical responders seemingly-constantly carry out drug investigations and respond to incidents where residents have abused prescription or illegal drugs.

To identify initiatives to combat the alcohol, tobacco, and other drug problems in our communities, District Attorney Scott Andreassi and Armstrong Indiana Clarion Drug and Alcohol Commission leaders hope to expand a Drug Free Communities Coalition into the county – beginning with a meeting next week.

Armstrong-Indiana-Clarion Drug and Alcohol Commission Prevention Specialist Jennifer McCroskey explained the goal of the coalition at an event in September.

“The goal of the coalition is actually to work to help reduce the amount of drugs and other issues related to Armstrong and Indiana County youth and adults as well,” McCroskey said. “The whole goal is just for us to partner together to work toward that goal of reducing it, to make it drug-free. We all work together to combat this issue.”

The coalition currently is made up of leaders from a dozen different community sectors, such as law enforcement, healthcare and business.

From 10AM – noon January 19 at the Belmont Complex, Andreassi will address the opioid/heroin epidemic and Drug and Alcohol Commission Executive Director Kami Anderson will discuss ideas to combat the issues, hoping community leaders can arrange a regular meeting time for the Drug Free Communities Coalition.

Last year, Armstrong Indiana Clarion Drug and Alcohol Commission was issued a continuation grant to be one of 15 Pennsylvania organizations geared toward combating youth substance abuse.

A continental breakfast will be provided during the kick-off meeting.

The drug and alcohol commission already facilitates coalition meetings in Indiana County mornings on the first Wednesday of every month at the Citizens’ Ambulance Training Center.

Last year, some of the events Armstrong-Indiana Drug Free Communities Coalition promoted included family activities and safe driving through the annual SummerFESTT (Families Enjoying Safe Times Together) children’s fair at the Belmont Complex and a display of alcohol-related deaths.