West Virginia State University Partners to Curb Substance Abuse in Cabell County

Contact: Kimberly Osborne
(304) 766-3363
March 20, 2015
West Virginia State University Partners to Curb Substance Abuse in Cabell County

INSTITUTE, W.Va. – West Virginia State University (WVSU) will partner with the Cabell County Substance Abuse Prevention Partnership, United Way of the River Cities and Huntington Mayor Steve Williams’ Office of Drug Control Policy on a project aimed at curbing substance abuse and mental health issues in the community.

The team will work together on a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture funded project, called a CAPE Project Phase II grant. Cabell County was awarded $149,480 in CAPE Project Phase II Innovation Communities funding.

Cabell County was one of only four areas in the country to receive such funding. Already this year Cabell County has seen 18 overdose deaths, 12 of which were heroin related.

“West Virginia leads the nation in drug overdose deaths and Cabell County is one of our most affected areas,” said Dr. Kerri Steele, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at WVSU. “They are in a unique position to develop and implement an early warning system and intervention because of the strong commitment from community leaders, partners and concerned citizens.”

In addition to Steele, WVSU Social Work Professor Brenda Wamsley and WVSU Extension Specialist Bonnie Dunn are also working on the project. Steele added that ultimately, they would like to see a WVSU student work on the project as a potential summer internship.

Together, the CAPE Phase II team will work to implement an innovative and potentially replicable early-warning strategy focused on these trends in Cabell County. Work began on the project in February and will continue through the summer. Based on the findings, the team will then select and implement a community intervention strategy later this year.

“We are excited to partner with United Way of the River Cities and West Virginia State University,” said Jim Johnson, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Drug Control Policy. “With this grant, we will develop an early-warning protocol system that will allow us to be proactive in tackling the drug problem in our area. This early-warning system will be a portal to recovery for our community and will become an exemplary standard nationwide.”

CAPE — which stands for Community Assessment and Education to Promote Behavioral Health Planning and Evaluation — is a national project aimed to help local decision makers obtain and use information about community behavioral health and trends.

The CAPE project is facilitated by Michigan State University Professor Scott Loveridge, who provides insight and direction to pilot communities with CAPE funding across the nation.

The Cabell County Substance Abuse Prevention Partnership aims to reduce and prevent youth substance abuse in Cabell County. Mayor Williams created the Office of Drug Control Policy in 2014 to respond to substance abuse-related issues in Huntington.

To learn more about the CAPE II Innovation project, visit http://www.healthbench.info.

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West Virginia State University is a public, land grant, historically black university, which has evolved into a fully accessible, racially integrated, and multi-generational institution, located in Institute, W.Va. As a “living laboratory of human relations,” the university is a community of students, staff, and faculty committed to academic growth, service, and preservation of the racial and cultural diversity of the institution. Its mission is to meet the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research.
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