Wichita Mountains Prevention Network receives five grants for substance abuse prevention services

Plamedie Ifasso
The Daily Ardmoreite

Wichita Mountains Prevention Network was awarded five grants from the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services for community-based prevention services in Carter, Jefferson, Gavin, Comanche and Stephens counties. 

Chelsey Stevenson, community based coalition coordinator for Wichita Mountains Prevention Network, said the five counties were listed as areas that had the greatest need of substance prevention services. 

“It had a list of communities that were in high need for certain substances,” Stevenson said. “Some of them were ranked one through 12, and the counties that were on there, we were able to write for. For Carter County, we did write for alcohol, stimulants, marijuana and opioids, but we only ended up getting three of those. So, our focus for Carter County will be alcohol, marijuana and stimulants and that includes prescription drug medications as well and illicit drugs.”

Stevenson said for the next few months in Carter County, WMPN will be working with the Carter County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition to conduct community assessments to gauge the substance abuse risk in the county. The plan is to create strategic plans that will reduce substance abuse issues. 

“Once we score them, it will help us determine where we’re at,” Stevenson said. “That way we can move forward and start planning even further, and we can start implementing and working on what we can do to make the community more aware. Or what do we know when we start looking at evidence-based programs will work.” 

Stevenson said they will be collecting local data and probably won’t get out of the planning phase until about January 2022. 

The goal for the project is to reduce alcohol, stimulant and marijuana abuse in the community. Since medical marijuana is legal in the state, Stevenson said the organization will be focused on marijuana abuse in kids 12 years old and older. 

“Our main goal is to make sure we’re pushing the information to make sure it doesn’t happen,” Stevenson said. “So they don’t start early on, and we catch it early. We do aim to integrate our prevention services into schools, businesses, faith-based organizations, healthcare, media and families.”

In order to further bring awareness to substance abuse, WMPN and Carter County Substance Abuse Committee will be hosting the Carter County Substance Abuse Memorial from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.  Aug, 31,  at McClure Chapel. Stevenson said this is the organizations fourth year to have the event, and there will be food, live music and a candle light vigil. 

“Our main goal is to have a short little service,” Stevenson said. “We have three speakers that will come in and share a little bit of their testimony. We will have a candlelight vigil, moment of silence and just a plethora of information and resources for those that may have been impacted with substance abuse.”