Abby Starkenburg – Staff Writer
Rosecrance Jackson Centers’ prevention specialists are wrapping up their six-week series on addictions, hosted by libraries around the area. The speakers have covered a variety of issues such as cannabis use, alcohol dependence, gambling, and gaming addiction.
The final session on Tuesday, Oct. 18 at 6:30 p.m. at the Orange City Public Library, will cover overdose and naloxone. Attending the series does not require registration.
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, “21.2 million Americans have a substance use disorder.” Out of these 21.2 million people struggling, one out of five report they do not know how to get help or what resources are available to aid them in their recovery journey.
This is one of the goals of the addiction series: to let the community know that there is help and resources available for addictionrelated issues.
Rosecrance’s prevention specialists’ main goal in educating the community is to help it understand the issue and how to avoid harmful behaviors. They sent out the Tri-Ethnic Survey to gauge the community-member’s understanding of addiction and what was going on locally, and discovered a pressing need to spread information and resources.
“Was our community aware? No.” Cheryl Buntsma, a prevention specialist at Rosecrance, and addiction series speaker, said.
Rosecrance wants to inform the community that addiction is a more widespread issue than it might appear on the surface level, and it wants to connect people with resources that might help.
Although the prevention specialists knew attendance would likely be low, they felt the topic was still important enough to pursue.
The series goes over how to know when something has become a problem, the different stages of addiction, and risk factors that might affect someone’s likelihood of becoming addicted.
Rosencrance’s Prevention Specialists started grant work in 2019 and are now under a fiveyear grant provided by the Iowa Department of Health Integrated Provider Network.
Through this grant, they hope to use their knowledge, resources, and experience to reform school systems. They are planning to go to the local schools during the next few years and bring change to school policies related to drug usage and addiction and bring more education to students.
So far, because of Rosecrance’s work, two counties in Iowa have changed to a stricter ordinance.
Rosecrance also believes young people need education and connection to resources just as much, if not more, than older generations.
Buntsma says that young people – specifically college-aged people – are “being targeted.” Things that can lead to addiction are more accessible than ever. Rosecrance hopes to integrate specific practices to help safeguard against addiction at the college level and are planning on reaching out to places like Dordt University to discuss potential future collaborations.
While the series might be coming to an end, the prevention team has no plans to stop educating the community on addiction and make a lasting change.
Photo credit: Abby Starkenburg