[Noozhawk’s note: This article is part of Noozhawk’s special investigative series, Prescription for Abuse. Related links are below.]
Inspired by Noozhawk’s Prescription for Abuse series, a special project exploring the misuse and abuse of prescription medications in Santa Barbara County, Carpinteria Cares for Youth will host a public forum Wednesday to talk about the issue’s effects on local young people.
The forum will feature some of the region’s most knowledgeable speakers on the issue, including Sgt. Sandra Brown of the Sheriff’s Department Coroner’s Office and Dr. Chris Lambert, director of Cottage Hospital’s Frequent Opiate Users Program. Treatment counselors Martin Levya and Heather Holt from the Daniel Bryant Youth & Family Treatment Center will also speak.
Resources will be available from the Santa Barbara Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse; Recovery Road Medical Center; Zona Seca; Full Spectrum Recovery & Counseling Services; Dr. Roland Rotz, a psychologist specializing in ADHD; the Cottage Hospital Substance Abuse Program; and more.
Marybeth Carty and Amrita Salm of Carpinteria Cares for Youth spoke with Noozhawk about the event and their efforts.
The group was formed about six years ago in the wake of a local tragedy. When a 16-year-old girl committed suicide after reaching out for help, Carty said a group of community members got together and started brainstorming. They realized Carpinteria was underserved by many services that are readily available in Santa Barbara. Areas such as counseling, mental health, youth activities and intervention hadn’t made their way to the small city.
“It seemed that none of these kids knew where to turn,” Salm said. “That was really the impetus (for Carpinteria Cares for Youth).”
The group’s first effort was to create an emergency resource card printed in both English in Spanish with various phone numbers. It also worked with the Santa Barbara County Department of Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services and 1st District Supervisor Salud Carbajal to lobby for more services in the area.
As far as Carty is concerned, she’s not interested in being a service provider, “but a convener of groups, collaborating with existing service agencies.”
The group has held several forums, including one on methamphetamine use that had a “tremendous” turnout. There was also a forum on alcohol, and one on gang prevention.
For next week’s forum, “we were really largely inspired by the Noozhawk series on prescription drugs,” said Carty, adding that prescription medication abuse has been an issue in Carpinteria, especially among young people, as drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall become more available recreationally.
“Our whole objective is to create a place where there’s an exchange of ideas and comments,” Carty said of the event. “We want a really robust question-and-answer session.”
Translators will be on hand for any Spanish speakers in attendance.
The event will be rebroadcast on public access television, and those times will be announced the night of the event.
People of all ages are invited. Even parents of young children are encouraged to attend. Reaching out to parents with the message that “this is something that can happen to any kids for any reason” is key, Salm said.
The group has also reached out to universities on the South Coast, inviting students to the forum.
“We hope that interns and students in those programs will attend, and then we’ll have a lot of resources from agencies that aren’t on the panel,” Salm said.
Wednesday’s event will be from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Carpinteria City Council Chambers, 5775 Carpinteria Ave. Refreshments will be served. The workshop is free, but donations will be accepted.