The Marshall County Agency for Substance Abuse Policy/Prevention — or ASAP — is reaching out to local organizations through the Kentucky Lakes Chamber of Commerce for a little “spring cleaning.”
The local ASAP and nearby organizations are working to assemble at least 100 grab bags filled with a variety of health-related information by next month to go along with National Drug Take Back Day, which is April 24.
“We thought, we’ve got to get information out to the community about our services we offer within ASAP, the organizations that are part of ASAP, services they offer,” Griffin said.
The idea behind the bags, she said, is to reach out to residents about getting rid of old or unneeded medications, especially at a time when social interactions are still difficult due to the pandemic. Since ASAP is organizing the initiative, the bags would also contain resources on substance abuse.
Marshall County Health Department Director Billy Pitts said substance abuse would be one of their focuses once the COVID-19 vaccine supply has drastically increased.
Before the pandemic, Pitts said a team was gathering data to ascertain the health needs of Marshall County. Such data could have led to the implementation of important programs like a syringe exchange program but once COVID-19 took root, everything was put on hold.
“It has slowed our roll in pursuing these programs that are worthwhile programs. But we’re in hopes that as summer rolls around, we’re hoping the vaccine becomes more plentiful, we’re hoping that it’s super effective, and that we can start easing ourselves back towards the normal life of addressing other public health issues besides COVID,” he said.
He stressed that anyone dealing with substance abuse is still encouraged to approach the health department for help, and that no one will be judged for their life choices. He said his staff stands ready to provide a plethora of resources and references to help those in their time of need, even if it means sending them to their “brothers just over the county line.”
While Graves County ASAP is currently the only agency in west Kentucky with a needle exchange program, Pitts said that once the vaccine is out in force he would assemble a team to collect data on the local public’s health and ascertain their needs.
“You have people of all walks of life that have issues with substance use. And some of these folks you would never know just by looking at them that they have a drug use problem. And so we as a society, we’ve gotta be open to whoever they are, no matter what it is, no matter what walk of life they’re in, that they need some help,” Pitts said.
While he is “confident” such a need would be found, it would ultimately be up to the Marshall County Fiscal Court to decide whether something akin to a needle exchange program should be implemented.