Adolescent and adult substance abuse problems take a heavy toll on families, communities and young lives. National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month (September) offers an opportunity to focus our efforts - as a community and a county - on prevention and treatment of substance abuse and addiction.
Tioga County youths have significant levels of substance abuse, particularly alcohol, marijuana and tobacco, compared to the national average - Communities That Care Youth Survey.
Studies show that all areas of America, including Tioga County, are touched by addiction. Substance abusers are at increased risk for serious health problems, criminal activity, automobile crashes, lost productivity in the workplace, and difficulties at school. They are not the only casualties. Their families, friends, and communities also suffer. But help is available, and recovery is possible when everyone works together. That is the focus of this year’s Recovery Month national theme -"We Recover Together: Family, Friends, and Community."
Each year, many people do recover. This is due to community-based substance abuse treatment programs, such as those offered by the Tioga County Department of Human Services (TCDHS), coupled with support groups and the encouragement of family, friends and the community at large, including: educators, employers, individuals working in the criminal justice system, members of the faith community, health care professionals, policymakers and insurers. Examples of their ‘realistic’ support are: their role in timely intervention, motivating the abuser to start and stay with treatment, and supporting that person throughout his/her efforts to maintain sobriety. The value of this support cannot be underestimated.
Family members and friends of individuals with alcohol and/or other drug problems also need ongoing support programs and services to help them cope with the addiction, understand and deal with the recovery process, and support their loved one’s efforts to get well.
Myths: "Nothing can be done unless the alcohol or drug abuser wants to stop," and "They must hit bottom," that is lose health, job, home, family, "before they will want to get well."
Fact: The truth is that with alcohol and other drug problems early recognition and treatment is possible and essential. Addiction, now defined as a chronic, relapsing, medical illness that involves a number of brain chemistry disorders, can be successfully treated. Treatment for addiction is as successful as treatments for other chronic health problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and asthma. In the past, drug dependence has been treated like an acute illness, one that can and should be "cured" virtually overnight. This is an unrealistic expectation. Recovery is an on going process.
Substance abuse treatment is also cost-effective. Research shows that every $1 invested in addiction treatment programs yields a return of between $4 and $7 in reduced drug-related crime, criminal justice costs, and theft alone. When savings related to health care are included, total savings can exceed costs by a ratio of 12 to 1. For example, Blue Cross/Blue Shield found that families’ health care costs dropped by 87% after treatment. Treatment has also been found to increase employment, decrease homelessness, and reduce risky sexual behaviors.
The good news is that addiction treatment is available and effective. The bad news is that 60% of those with addiction problems do not receive any treatment. This is because community members choose to look the other way rather than to participate in early intervention efforts and do not support the abuser’s efforts to recover. Recovery is truly a shared community responsibility.
Student Assistance Program Focuses on Intervention
The Student Assistance Program (SAP), a school-based intervention program for seventh through 12th graders, provides a link to supportive services for students with drug and alcohol or mental health problems. SAP teams are composed of teachers, staff and community health and human service professionals. The Tioga County Department of Human Services (TCDHS) mental health and drug and alcohol program specialists serve as team advisors, providing consultation, education and referral assistance. TCDHS staff members are available to meet with students and their families to determine the need for outside treatment. The suggested services are strictly voluntary, and both the student and his/her parents must consent to the referral services offered. The SAP team maintains strict guidelines to ensure confidentiality of both students and their families. Anyone may refer a student to the team by calling the school which the student attends. Schools that are involved include: Liberty High School; North Penn High School, Blossburg; Mansfield High School; Wellsboro Middle School; Wellsboro Area High School; Williamson High School, Tioga Junction; Elkland High School; and Cowanesque Valley High School. All referrals are reviewed. Our SAP representatives provide consultation and referral services to the eight Tioga County SAP teams in the participating Tioga County schools. Services are provided to all schools free of charge.
Keeping Kids on the Track to Success
The Tioga County Department of Human Services (TCDHS) Adventure Challenge Experience (ACE) after-school and summer programs, taught by trained youth counselors, help kids build self-esteem and physical coordination, develop leadership and decision-making skills, and provide a healthy alternative to delinquency and drug and alcohol use.
"Sometimes, just keeping children/adolescents busy in supervised activities that promote positive qualities, is all the motivation they need to avoid getting involved with negative influences," said Linda Martin, TCDHS’s Community Services director. "Studies have shown that many problems, such as drug and alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy and delinquency behavior, occur between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. when adolescents are ‘on their own’ because they’re ‘too old for a baby-sitter’ and mom and dad are working."
However, being ‘home alone’ is just one risk factor. "Children/adolescents who get involved with negative influences or activities usually have poorly developed decision-making skills, they may not have appropriate role-models, don’t participate in community activities and often do poorly in school," she said. The ACE program is a positive alternative for these children/adolescents. It is a way to not only keep children/adolescents busy and out of trouble but to also teach lessons that last a lifetime.
These programs referred to as A.C.E. (Adventure Challenge Experience) are:
A.C.E. is an after school and summer program for youth. It is Goal oriented and prevention-based offering outdoor activities and educational opportunities in a structured environment. Youth sign a behavioral contract and work to meet the goals specified in the agreement, participating in activities that build trust, teamwork and endurance. The youth also take part in a variety of educational programs on preventive health and drug and alcohol prevention. A.C.E. programs are available to Tioga County Youth who meet the eligibility guidelines. The program is open to 10-17 year olds. The A.C.E. program includes these components:
Wilderness Experience Program (WEP) - Specialized activities are used as a motivational tool to encourage positive behavior and help youth develop self-esteem. Working with specially trained counselors, the youth particiapate in a variety of activities including mountain biking, canoeing, skiing, camping, hiking, backpacking, kayaking, showshoeing, rock-climbing, ropes course, non-competitive games and team building skills with the goal of encouraging positive insight and behavior.
NYPUM (National Youth Project Using Minibikes) - The minibike is used as a motivational tool to encourage positive behavior and help youth develop self-esteem and a sense of belonging. By working toward the goals specified in their behavioral contract, youth earn the privilege to ride a minibike at the program site. Participants complete a 21-part lesson plan that teaches safe riding skills, responsibility to other riders and the mechanics of a minibike.
Fairways to Success - The privilege of playing golf is used as a motivational tool to help youth build self-esteem and develop leadership and communication skills. Fairways is based on the national First Tee golf life skills curriculum.
For information about any of these TCDHS youth programs, call (570)724-5766 or toll free at 1-800-242-5766.
Where Can I Go for Help in Tioga County?
Once you recognize you have an addiction problem, where do you go for help? The Tioga County Department of Human Services (TCDHS) offers drug and alcohol case management services, as well as outpatient assessment and counseling services.
Case Management Services
Drug and alcohol case management (support) services are available free of charge to youth and adults with addiction problems. Depending on the wishes of the person involved, these services may be provided in the home or in other community settings anywhere in Tioga County. Case management services include a ‘listening’ ear and referral to other ‘support’ services such as: addiction assessment, job training, tutoring, day care, financial planning, etc. To learn more about case management services, call
or toll free
Drug and Alcohol Assessment
TCDHS’s drug and alcohol program gives each individual an opportunity to start rebuilding his or her life, one day at a time. Assessment services are available to youth and adults. Professional assessment for those addicted to alcohol and/or other drugs is provided by trained personnel. Participants do not have to leave school or their jobs to keep appointments. Assessment appointments can be scheduled during the day or evening to meet school or work schedules. Some or all costs of assessment and/or treatment may be covered, depending on the individual’s employer, third party insurer, or income eligibility for government sponsored health programs. Payment options are also available. Strict guidelines are followed to ensure confidentiality.
Assessment services are provided at:
1873 Shumway Hill Rd
(570) 724-5766 or
toll free 1-800-242-5766
Free Information and Presentations are Available in Tioga County
The Tioga County Department of Human Services Drug and Alcohol Prevention Program is a free educational service that provides information and presentations on substance abuse prevention for Tioga County residents, including parents and community groups. Our goal is to help people of all age groups live drug-free and develop healthy habits for life.
Our services include:
n Classroom Presentations - Our prevention specialists provide accurate, up-to-date information on drugs, alcohol, tobacco, inhalants and over-the-counter medications to students in their classrooms. We’re also available to talk with students, teachers and parents on a variety of age appropriate, life skill topics related to substance abuse, such as peer pressure, decision-making and consequences.
n Community Workshops - We work with schools, churches and other community organizations to help design and implement programs on alcohol and drug abuse awareness and give presentations on prevention to parenting groups.
n Prevention Resource Room We offer a wide variety of books, pamphlets and videos on substance abuse prevention. These materials are available for use by students, teachers, community groups and other interested area residents.
For more information about Drug and Alcohol Prevention Program Services, call: (570) 724-5766 or toll free, 1-800-242-5766.
Communication: The Key to Prevention
The best way to prevent a drug problem from ever beginning is to provide an environment of open and honest communication. Try these tips for successful communication:
Be calm. Anger can cloud your ability to communicate rationally.
Give your undivided attention. Don’t interrupt or pass judgment.
Concentrate on understanding rather than always offering advice. Repeat what is said if you need to.
Be aware of body language. Not only your child’s or loved one’s body language, but also your own, and send positive messages.
Speak for yourself. Emphasize your feelings. Begin sentences with "I" rather than "You."
Be firm. Family rules, behavioral expectations and likely consequences need to be communicated and agreed upon by all family members.
Stop the Cycle of Dependency
The sooner an alcohol and/or other drug problem is recognized, the easier it is to stop it. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of abuse is the first step toward getting help for an individual in need of treatment.
Look for sudden changes in mood and behavior, such as:
• Unusual hostility, irritability, or secretiveness
• Withdrawal from the family
• Changes in friends
• Resistance to discipline
• A pattern of dishonesty, stealing and trouble with the police
• The possession of large amounts of cash
• A drop in grades at school or in performance at work
• A sudden increase in absences, tardiness
• Poor concentration and short-term memory
• Slurred speech
• A loss of motivation and interest in regular activities
• Drug-related messages or symbols on possessions
• A lack of concern for appearance or hygiene
Notice changes in your loved one’s physical well-being, such as:
• An unhealthy appearance
• Bloodshot eyes
• Dilated or shrunken pupils
• A constant runny nose or cough
• A major change in eating or sleeping patterns
• Sudden weight loss
• A lack of energy
Substance Abuse Web Sites
More information on substance abuse prevention and treatment is available at the following web sites:
Al-Anon Family Groups, Inc.
American Council on Alcoholism
Institute for a Drug-Free Workplace
National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
National Institute on Drug Abuse
National PTA Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Project
National Directory of Drug Abuse and Alcoholism Treatment Programs
U.S. Department of Education Safe and Drug-Free Schools
What To Do About It
Do’s & Don’ts
• Don’t panic or blame yourself.
• Do self-examine, consider the example you’ve set.
• Don’t be sarcastic, accusatory or sympathy seeking.
• Do express concern and understanding.
• Don’t be swayed by denials if you have hard evidence.
• Do be firm, stick to established discipline.
• Don’t try to sway your loved one with emotional appeals.
• Do present the evidence calmly and rationally, without giving your loved one a chance to lie.
If you suspect that your loved one is using drugs, question everything. Monitor what he or she is doing as much as possible.
If you feel you have strong evidence and decide to intervene, wait until your loved one is sober. Call on other family members or friends to support you in the confrontation, if necessary.