Message from Barb Gay, Executive Director
Every organization needs a plan for the future, and a path to achieve the identified goals. Over the past year, ASAC took on the work to develop a new strategic plan. This was a lengthy process, and I thank many of you for being a part of it. The early phases of strategic planning included obtaining feedback on how we do our work currently, and what we should be thinking about for the future. We asked current and former patients, business partners, employees, funders, volunteers, and additional stakeholders. We got a tremendous amount of valuable information back! The next phase involved leadership staff and board members reviewing the feedback to narrow down the focus. That was a difficult task, as the people who are connected to this agency are very eager to do all that is possible to help those who choose to be engaged with us. But we did it, and we now have a document to share with all of you that clearly communicates the work we are focused on for the next five years. You can find the ASAC strategic plan on our website. I’ll provide updates to you all on our progress as we go. We won’t be waiting until the end to see if we are making accomplishments. For ASAC, this strategic plan is very much a working guideline; we will be looking to it to help mark our successes and challenges.
Mental Health & Substance Abuse
It is not at all uncommon for an individual to have both a mental health condition and a substance use disorder simultaneously, which are often referred to as co-occurring disorders. In fact, a 2014 SAMHSA report found co-occurring disorders to be present in nearly 8 million adult Americans. The reasons these two disorders often occur together are varied and complex. For more information about the relationship between mental health and substance use disorders, please see the full article by Jeff Meyers, ASAC Prevention Specialist.
An ASAC staff member knows the devastating impacts of co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders all too well. She writes, “My son is in treatment right now for a substance use disorder. Since he was diagnosed with bi-polar depression 6 years ago around his 20th birthday, he has been in and out of treatment facilities several times to treat both disorders. Around age 22, he was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder.” Read more about their family’s challenges, treatment, and hope.
ASAC Launches Feedback Informed Treatment Model
Feedback Informed Treatment (FIT) is an approach for evaluating and improving the quality and effectiveness of behavioral health services. It involves regularly and formally asking for feedback from patients regarding the therapeutic alliance they have with their counselor(s) and the outcome of their care, using that information to tailor their ongoing services. Through the use of FIT, ASAC anticipates being able to decrease the number of patients who drop out of services prior to successful completion and increase the outcomes of the services we provide. FIT will begin implementation in our Downtown office, including Drug Treatment Court, in July 2017. It will roll out in each additional office/component over the next couple of years. Gayle Kelley, ASAC Clinical Director, will be leading ASAC’s FIT implementation.
The Way Home
Nestled back off busy Kirkwood Blvd. SW is a place where families in recovery can call “home”. The Way Home is a 24 unit Transitional Housing Program which provides safe, affordable housing with supportive services to current tenants as well as those clients seeking housing following treatment. After 8 years as Housing Manager at The Way Home, I took on a new role in February as Housing Navigator. As Housing Navigator I am able to work more closely with tenants and clients to break down the barriers that keep them from obtaining and maintaining long term affordable housing, such as money management, poor rental history and basic life skills. In December of this year I will celebrate 20 years as an ASAC employee. My passion has always been to help those in need. The reward comes from knowing that I have given them hope! – Brenda Bedell, Housing Navigator.
Upcoming Emerging Drug Trends Training
Save the Date! ASAC will be providing training on “Emerging Drug Trends” on August 19th. This training explores new drugs that have surfaced in eastern Iowa, the impacts locally, and what we can do to effectively address them. Visit www.asac.us/training for more info.
Day of Caring
ASAC would like to thank the many volunteers from Quaker Oats, Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust, US Bank, and Whirlpool that volunteered their time to help us with several projects on May 11th – 12th for the United Way Days of Caring. The groups helped paint our reception area and outpatient hallway, deep cleaned our adult recovery center, washed windows, and provided landscaping on campus. We truly appreciate their contributions to ASAC!
Tobacco Free Parks
On Friday, May 19, a group of community members joined ASAC for a “Flag the Park” event at Daniels Park in an effort to raise awareness about tobacco waste in parks. The group flagged over 300 signs of waste in a small area around the playground and splash pad. Beyond the negative impact on the park’s appearance, this waste also reflects some potential health risks to park attendees, especially children. Anyone that would like to get involved in advocating for tobacco free parks, or would like more information, may contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Social Host Ordinance in Place
Parties are one of the ways teens gain access to alcohol and other drugs. When adults choose to allow a party to take place for their kids and their friends, they are in reality condoning the underage consumption of alcohol, leading to a lowered perception of harm among youth. We know that if access to any substance increases and perception of harm decreases, then substance use is likely to increase. The Linn County Board of Supervisors has taken an important step in revising the existing Linn County Social Host Law to allow authorities to better address the occurrence of adult sponsored underage drinking and drug use parties. Under the revised social host law, law enforcement may issue a large fine to any adult that knowingly allows one of these parties to occur on their property. The hope is that communities come together to realize the negative impact these sorts of gatherings have on the health and safety of our youth, not to mention the potential influence on their futures.
ASAC Deputy Director Receives Award
Melissa Walker, ASAC Deputy Director, was recently awarded the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC)’s Prevention Professional of the Year Award. This award is presented to one prevention professional each year that best embodies the ideals of the profession and of IC&RC. Melissa was nominated by the Iowa Board of Certification for her local, state and international leadership in the prevention field. Melissa’s nomination highlighted her leadership in the development of an Advanced Prevention credential for Iowa, assisting in the development of an updated IC&RC prevention certification exam, and chairing an IC&RC committee that updated the international recommendations for the Prevention Code of Ethics.