By Joe Morey
The Drug Task Force met Tuesday, January 15, to discuss the Tribal Action Plan (TAP) and its current status. Chairperson of the committee, Dottie Crust, said the TAP wasn’t completed yet. Only two members of the committee were present, and a dozen community members were in attendance, so without a quorum, Booki Wielgot gave a presentation on the current status of the TAP.
Wielgot said there were three goals the Task Force decided upon based on three areas of need, Treatment, Prevention and Capacity.
Crust had previously explained in November that the development of the TAP has been extensive and time consuming for all participating members.
Two main groups were formed to address Treatment and Prevention. For Treatment – Booki Wielgot, Dotty Crust, Melinda Lambert, Tammy Bergum, James Marucha, Don Smith, and Marie Basty, and for Prevention – Dianne Sullivan, LuAnne Kolumbus, Jason Martin, Sue Aasen, Kristi Perry, Heather Peterson.
“These groups have been meeting weekly or every other week to be able to present a Strategic Plan for the Tribal Action Plan,” Dottie said. “It has been a struggle to get times when people can meet with full time jobs.”
When the TAP is completed it will be brought to tribal membership for input, and to make recommendations for change before the final submission.
Wielgot explained in coming up with the goals, task force members asked themselves what their unified message would be, “And how do we culturally approach the message and then how can we broadcast that message.”
The first goal is to increase awareness and knowledge of drugs and their negative consequences. To achieve these goals, Wielgot said the task force would increase information about substance abuse through presentations and media.
“The focus would be on reducing stigma and raising general awareness,” Wielgot said.
The task force would also aim to adopt a common slogan that presents a single unified message rather than each organization using their own.
To broadcast that unified message, Wielgot said they would use radio and television public service announcements, engage in social media as well as billboards, newsletters and posters, etc.
Currently, LCO Behavioral Health is running local radio ads with a message from Gina Krizan, the prevention specialist, and a billboard campaign has been started around the reservation featuring local youth.
Other ideas for the first goal include determining target populations, conducting local focus groups, creating a calendar of events for all programs, hosting direct educational strategies within the school system, increase wellness activities, increase support for youth activities, and creating a needle exchange program.
Booki explained that the second goal is to help people in the recovery process. The second goal is to help people with addiction return to “mino-bimaadiziwin” by creating tribal bridges of care at every stage of the recovery process.
“Within six months a tribal wide process will be established for a 24/7 mental health crisis hotline in partnership with Oakwood Haven, ICW, SART, Mental Health/Behavioral Health,” Wielgot said.
A process will be established for a 4/7 triage with a crisis line for substance abuse, Wielgot explained. Also, by January of 2020, fifteen peer support specialists will be trained and deployed in the field to provide support before and after treatment, and coordinate outpatient support services.
Wielgot said a triage center in the health center would also be included in this goal.
“It’s hard to complete the process if some of the major players aren’t here who should be,” Wielgot said. “We can’t say the health center will do this or that if they are not here.”
Weilgot explained this goes for all the different parts of the plan.
The third goal has to do with Capacity and aims to increase capacity of the tribe to address the opioid and methamphetamine epidemic.
Some methods for addressing capacity include creating Tribal Standards of Care for treatment of tribal members, ensuring cultural competence among staff, employing a full-time spiritual advisor, increasing the number of qualified Native staff in the Behavioral Health and AODA departments, increase ICW staffing and planning, increasing space in Tribal Court to allow expansion of Wellness Court services, develop a justice system wide strategic plan and increase programming through Boys and Girls Club with positive lifestyle themes that piggyback strong prevention messages.
According to Crust, the Tribal Action Plan is a huge undertaking but is a step in the right direction for the members of the community. If you or someone is interested in being a part of the Drug Task Force, please write a letter of interest to the Tribal Governing Board at 13394W Trepania Rd, Hayward, WI 54843.