According to a pamphlet issued by the Chester County Department of Drug and Alcohol Services, there are, at the current time, four phone numbers to call to learn about community-based efforts to prevent or reduce the use of drugs and alcohol within the county. There are seven sites that provide outpatient treatment service; five locations that provide partial hospitalization treatment; and several inpatient treatment centers that offer detox, residential and halfway house-type living arrangements. There are not enough back slaps and handshakes in the world that could properly tell the individuals who run these organizations just how grateful we are for their service.
While these facilities place their focus and concentration on treatment, rehabilitation and redirection of groups and individuals, their primary purpose is confined to the practice of healing – to apply bandages on the wounds of addiction. In contrast, this county continues to spiral slowly out of control through the infiltration of heroin on our playgrounds, on our streets, in our schools and in the hands of our children, to the point where its menacing presence defies all logic to comprehend it. And while we exceed greatly at the art of healing those in the throes of addiction – and while our police departments and district attorney's office continue to make broad-sweeping arrests of those who bring heroin into our towns -- where does Chester County stand when it comes to drug prevention?
When it comes to the education of students, parents and the community about heroin and the swath of destruction it causes, one group stands alone.
By the end of this month, Kacie's Cause will have met with members of the West Grove, Kennett Square and New Garden boroughs. In May, they spoke with a local community at the Longwood Fire House. A few weeks later, they spoke at a sold-out town hall meeting at the New Garden Township, sponsored by Chief Gerald Simpson of the New Garden Police Department. In a short span of time, the group – a dedicated army of volunteers led by Andy Rumford, who daughter Kacie died of a heroin overdose last year – have formed a coalition of caring, and their message is clear: Here's what's going on in your neighborhood, in your child's school, and maybe in your child's life.
It's time for Kacie's Cause to be allowed to visit our schools. No, not just the high schools. Every school, in every town, from Chadds Ford to Kennett Square to West Grove to Oxford, and every school in between and even beyond. It's time for Kacie's Cause to be given permission to share their message with not only our teenagers but our youngest citizens, in regular classroom visits and PTO meetings and class assemblies. Loudly. Passionately. Repeatedly. If you need proof why, between 1995 and 2002, the number of American teenagers who used heroin at some point in their lives increased 300 percent. When the 2013-14 academic season begins in two months, it is our hope that their message is heard, understood and remembered.