The 130th Annual Meeting of APHA

4131.0: Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - Table 4

Abstract #48628

Vermontís Heroin Action Committee: Public involvement in setting priorities for action

Jan K. Carney, MD, MPH, Thomas E. Perras, MS, James C. Bellino, MEd, Linda Piasecki, MA, and Linda F. Dorey. Vermont Department of Health, 108 Cherry Street, PO Box 70, Burlington, VT 05402, (802) 863-7280, jcarney@vdh.state.vt.us

In response to a serious and growing heroin problem in Vermont, the Vermont Department of Health implemented a process to involve the public in discussions for statewide action. The Governorís Heroin Action Committee (HAC) was organized in early 2001 and included 39 people representing state and local police, judges, treatment professionals, physicians, schools, health care, teen center, public health, corrections, public safety, and other organizations dealing with problems associated with heroin. Two fundamental elements emerged from committee meetings: (1) a comprehensive approach is needed, one that includes prevention, treatment, and enforcement, and (2) a focus must be, not on heroin alone, but also on alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs. The HAC developed priorities for action in areas of prevention, treatment, and enforcement. In fall 2001, six well-attended public forums were held throughout the state, as well as a youth community leadership group to discuss community priorities. Several themes emerged during HAC public meetings. Participants agreed with two fundamental elements and many priorities. Community prevention priorities included putting student assistance counselors in every school and improving early intervention for children identified in elementary schools as being high risk. Treatment priorities included in-state residential youth treatment and increasing local treatment options. Enforcement priorities included support for drug courts, and resources for parents of unmanageable teens. This collaborative process, guided by public and youth input, resulted in clear priorities for statewide and community action to address heroin and other drug use. This approach may be applicable to other states.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Substance Abuse, Public Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

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The 130th Annual Meeting of APHA