At the first town council meeting of the fall on Tuesday, September 3, representatives from Winthrop CASA (Community Action for Safe Alternatives) gave a presentation to councilors about their plans for Recovery Month, celebrated nationwide every September.
National Recovery Month is observed annually to educate the public about treatment options and services for those suffering from addiction and substance abuse disorders.
CASA is a local nonprofit that aims to stem the tide of substance abuse by connecting families and individuals to community resources. CASA’s Executive Director Leighanne Eruzione spoke at Tuesday night’s council meeting about how the organization plans to celebrate the month-long event.
CASA will be launching a coordinated social media campaign throughout the month of September along with in-person activities in an effort to increase their impact and visibility in the community. CASA hopes to generate a buzz during the month of September in order to kickstart longer-term and ongoing projects.
Eruzione mentioned that while a lot of resources are put toward treating active addictions, CASA aims to tackle the issue from the other side—preventing people from becoming addicted in the first place.
“Our goal is getting ahead of issues, supporting people before the road of addiction begins,” said Eruzione.
CASA has identified a number of local leaders who have done work to support the goal of substance abuse prevention, education and early intervention. Every week in September, the Winthrop Transcript will feature a profile of one of these individuals. The goal is to educate the public about the resources that exist in their own neighborhood and to put a face to the recovery movement.
“[We want to] humanize the individuals in the community that do this work, to show why we do what we do,” said Eruzione.
CASA was recently the recipient of a $15,000 grant from the Suffolk DA’s office for its Clear Program for the fourth year in a row. It is thrilled to be able to use this gift to fund future initiatives.
Councilwoman Linda Calla suggested that more ought to be done to address the influence of peer pressure on a child’s decision to use substances, alluding to the “Just Say No” advertising campaign emblematic of Reagan’s “War on Drugs.” However, studies have shown that peer-pressure-focused drug education programs, like the popular D.A.R.E. program of the ‘80s and ‘90s, did not affect drug use among youth.
Eruzione said that anti-drug programs, in addition to being of dubious efficacy, are also expensive for school districts. But she agreed that campaigns targeting children and adolescents were necessary and said they are constantly researching new ways to collaborate with the police department and with other towns in order to provide higher-quality interventions at the elementary and middle school levels. She said that the high school had realized a successful anti-drug PSA campaign that could be used to inspire younger children in the school system.
CASA currently has a Youth Advisory Board made up of Winthrop students as young as 11. This board is meant to enhance the organization’s youth-specific programming.
-CASA Recovery Month Agenda
Daily Social Media Tidbit – Every day in September, CASA will feature a new social media tidbit, be it a meme, a statistic, poll or tagline having to do with addiction and recovery. Check them out on the CASA Facebook page at facebook.com/winthropcasa.
Weekly News Spotlight – Pick up a copy of the Winthrop Transcript every week to see the profile of a community leader whose work has contributed to CASA’s overall goals of educating the public on substance abuse awareness.
Sept. 12, 5-8 p.m. – Participate in an evening of lantern-making. Lanterns will be created using standard water bottles cut in half and decorated with papier-maché. Each lantern is meant to honor an individual who has been lost to the disease of addiction. Completed lanterns will be featured in the windows of Town Hall the following week.
Sept. 16-20th – Lanterns created by the public will light up the windows of Town Hall, creating a powerful visual to honor those who lost their battle with addiction.
Sept 21 – CASA youth ambassadors will be staffing a table at the I Love Winthrop 2019 festival, where they will be engaging with children through educational activities.
Sept. 28 – CASA will be hosting a basketball tournament at the Walden Street courts. Teams of eight pay $350 (roughly $44 per person) to participate and all proceeds go toward funding current and future CASA campaigns. Teams can sign up until Sept. 14 by calling 763-0241 or emailing [email protected].
Find more information about CASA and Recovery Month at winthropcasa.org.