Saturday, January 24, 2015

Windham-Raymond groups align to fight drug and alcohol abuse - By Walter Lunt

Concerned groups of citizens from Windham and Raymond are joining forces to significantly reduce or eliminate drug abuse in the lakes region. The coalition, known as Be The Influence-Drug Free Communities, came together recently to begin the preliminary work of preparing a federal grant application for $125,000 over five years.

The diverse collaborative, made up of community, school, youth, law enforcement and business groups are targeting chiefly tobacco, alcohol and marijuana abuse, and encourage more participation from most of the sectors.

The group plans to gather data, write specific goals and develop an action plan to identify factors that contribute and lead to poor decisions surrounding the use of drugs and alcohol.

Windham school officials say interested students will address these issues at a “student summit” later this month. Windham High School student Alec Wurfel created a Be The Influence logo that will be used throughout the educational campaign.
At their recent meeting as a coalition, some expressed concern that relaxed attitudes and numerous proposals to reduce penalties for marijuana possession in other communities send mixed messages to youth. One participant stated flatly, “Kids (just) don’t know the reasons why they shouldn’t use.”
Should the grant application be successful, the coalition hopes to conduct an expansive educational campaign that will show all facets of the community, young and old, how to Be The Influence against substance abuse.

The Drug Free Community effort is being coordinated by Opportunity Alliance of South Portland. Similar programs have reported success in at least 13 other Maine communities.

More information can be obtained by consulting the Windham-Raymond RSU14 website or

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