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Drug abuse prevention agency adds Cleburne to territory

Drug drop-box

Seyram Selase, left, and Downey Drug pharmacist Johnnie Ellis talk about a new prescription drug drop box at Downey Drugs on Alabama 202 in Anniston in May. Selase's Agency for Substance Abuse Prevention is expanding its services to Cleburne County.

The Agency for Substance Abuse Prevention, a Calhoun County-based nonprofit, is expanding its services into Cleburne County next week.

Executive director Seyram Selase said the agency received a $40,306 block grant from the Alabama Department of Mental Health to be used for Cleburne County.

Stacy Jackson, a former Department of Human Resources worker assigned to Cleburne County, has been hired by the agency to kickstart its presence in Cleburne County. 

Selase said the agency's mission is to concentrate on prevention of substance abuse.

“We don’t do any treatment or counseling services,” said Selase.

“Right now, because the opioid crisis is just damaging so many communities and especially the whole, entire state of Alabama, we’re going to be really focused on prevention,” said Selase.

Selase said the agency will concentrate on educating kids in schools and drug take-back days.

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is Oct. 26, and Selase said the agency is working with Wright Drug Company on Ross Street to allow residents to drop off old and unused prescription drugs.

Selase said he hopes the agency will be able to offer the same services to Cleburne residents as it does in Calhoun County, including programs known as Too Good For Drugs, Red Ribbon Week and Smart Moves, Smart Choices.

Selase said he wants to work with any other agencies in Cleburne County to help with drug abuse prevention. 

Selase said there is a need for such prevention in Cleburne County, based on what he’s learned from talking with District Judge Melody Walker and other county officials. 

Tracy Lambert, Cleburne EMS Director, said that when he was coroner he saw drug overdose deaths but not enough to say there was an increase.

The current Cleburne County Coroner Adam Downs said he has seen no drug overdose deaths since he took office in January.

Cleburne County Commissioner Laura Cobb said she’s very appreciative that the agency is expanding into Cleburne County. 

“Anytime you can educate kids on drugs, on not taking drugs and you’ve got a program that will come and help with that, that’s wonderful. That’s what it’s going to take to educate our young children and seeing the danger,” Cobb said.

Cobb said that most people don’t see the danger of drugs until it’s too late.

“The more programs to come, nonprofit organizations to come into the county to teach our young children is great to me,” said Cobb.  

​Staff writer Bill Wilson: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @bwilson_star.