SOUTH POINT, Ohio -While it take a village to grow a child, it also may take a community to deal with families impacted by drug abuse.

A group called Tri-State Family Connections is being formed to help families who have been impacted by drug addiction, said Lawrence County Municipal Judge Don Capper.

The group has had a series of workshops at Ohio University Southern in Ironton and Proctorville in the past few weeks. Some 200 people have attended, Capper said.

The group is having an organizational session at 6 p.m. Monday, July 15, at Tri-State Bible College in Coal Grove, Capper said.

"We decided we need to do something and get the community and churches involved," he said. "We want to get them help, support and training on how to deal with family members involved with drug addiction."

"In 2018, I sent 300 people to treatment from Lawrence County Municipal Court," Capper said. His court dealt with some 2,000 cases last year. He also is requiring those involved in shoplifting cases to get drug tested since a number of people involved in shoplifting are doing it to support a drug habit, he said.

The group's mission statement is for the community to come together in good faith, to help those whose lives have been affected by addiction and to support, educate and mentor those who wish to prevent and fight addiction in our community.

Capper is sending people to get drug abuse counseling at places including Spectrum, Riverside Recovery, Mended Reeds, New Beginnings, the Counseling Center and Majahn in Ironton.

Ohio Medicaid will pay for the counseling sessions, Capper said. However, about 20 percent of drug defendants in his court are from West Virginia and up to 10 percent are from Kentucky, he said.

"We're trying to work with drug counselors in Huntington and Ashland," he said. "Our community has been hit really hard by the drug problem. We want to get the community involved in helping solve the problem."

The Rev. Sallie Schisler of Christ Episcopal Church in Ironton is among those getting involved in the new program.

"I think we are called to get involved," she said. "Families are suffering."

Schisler has felt the calling of people of faith to get involved helping those dealing with drug problems. Some of her church members have joined her in some of the workshops.

"We want some viable responses that support families and connect families," she said. "There's still a stigma involved with drug addiction. This program feels like we're moving in the right direction."

"We're looking for volunteers," Capper said. "Everyone is welcome to the meeting. We will have food provided by Casa Grande."

Cabell County has a quick response team to deal with drug offenders. Capper said he took training from the team in the area of the faith component.

River Hills Impact Prevention Connections helped the group get a grant for the workshops, he said.


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