NEW CUMBERLAND - A New Cumberland councilman is trying to stem the tide of drug abuse in the city and elsewhere by beginning monthly meetings for those affected by drug or alcohol abuse.
The meetings, which are 7 p.m. the last Friday of every month at the former city building, located at the corner of River Avenue and Jefferson Street, is for anyone who is affected by drug abuse in any way, according to Shawn Marks, 2nd Ward councilman and co-organizer of the meetings.
"The meetings are for anyone who is or has been affected by drug abuse," said Marks, adding those attending could be suffering from the second-hand effects of drug abuse or be addicted themselves. "This is for any problems that arise from drug abuse."
The meetings are a place where residents can gather and discuss candidly the effects of drug abuse in the community, while also offering guidance to those who may be struggling with an addiction, Marks said.
"What do you do if you have that kind of problem going on with your friends, family members or in your neighborhood?" said Marks, adding the meetings are to provide help and guidance. "We've had two meetings so far. We had a good turnout the first time. I think we need to get the word out that (the meetings) don't have anything to do with (law enforcement). We're just trying to give people options for 'stopping the chase' (of addiction). We're not trying to get anyone in trouble. If you don't know what to do, come on down.
"We try to have a speaker who has lived that kind of life and found a way out," continued Marks. "(The speakers) talk about their war stories. They also talk about how they got out of it."
Marks said young people also are welcome at the meetings.
"This is targeted at kids, to try to bring them out of addiction," he said. "There are a lot of avenues to get out of that kind of life. We're trying to use all avenues."
Marks also said he'd like to see relatives affected by drug abuse of family members attend the meetings, as well as the general public to become educated on the matter and draw attention to the scope of the problem in the city.
"Prescription abuse is rampant," he said. "Crack cocaine, pills, heroin - they are all out there. Young people are under the impression that drugs are glamorous."
Marks said the meeting also is for victims of crimes committed by drug abusers and what they can do about it.
"We'd eventually like to explore other areas as well," said Marks, adding "we need to stop what's going on in our smaller communities. Everyone's affected by it, whether they realize it or not."
Marks said anyone with questions or concerns could call him, at (304) 546-3828.
(Miller can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)