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Charlestown Substance Abuse Coalition (CSAC)

The Charlestown Substance Abuse Coalition (CSAC) works to reduce substance use disorders by changing community norms and attitudes, increasing the presence of law enforcement, advocating for additional treatment resources, and engaging in primary prevention within the public schools.

In 2002, the rates of substance abuse-related hospitalizations and drug-related deaths among residents were 50% higher in Charlestown than in Boston overall. In 2004, the majority (70%) of Charlestown admissions to publicly-funded treatment facilities were for heroin and other opioids, compared to 50% for Boston. To address these challenges, a community coalition was formed to reduce substance misuse by utilizing existing community resources, organizing programs to respond to identified needs, and harnessing the community’s energy and commitment to create a safe, healthy environment in Charlestown.

The Charlestown Substance Abuse Coalition works to increase access to and resources for successful treatment and recovery from substance use disorders (SUDS). The Coalition also strengthens protective factors and decreases risk factors to prevent substance use and misuse for youth, young adults and families, through education, prevention, and intervention strategies.  The coalition has nearly 50 active members representing 12 community sectors.

CSAC’s efforts have contributed to the following outcomes:

  • Emergency Medical Service responses for heroin overdoses decreased 62% from 2003 to 2010.  
  • Hospital discharges from opioid overdoses decreased by 44% between 2004 and 2009.
  • Between calendar years 2003 and 2008, Charlestown’s drug-related deaths decreased 78%.

2014 Outcomes:

  • The Turn It Around, Charlestown social marketing campaign has continued to be promoted through several activities across Charlestown.  The 24-member Turn It Around youth group promoted the campaign and have raised awareness of substance use through community events such as “The Anonymous People” film viewing and a presentation by Chris Herren. In April the youth group set up and ran a drug fact and alternatives to drug use table at the Boston Public Health Commission Recovery Health Fair, where the students ran games and distributed questionnaires to challenge and educate their community about the negative effects of drugs. These youth members got the word out about the annual Prescription Give Back Day where we collected 750 prescriptions, more than ever before.
  • The Community Health Worker (CHW) worked with 175 clients this reporting period making 525 referrals to various substance use disorder treatment facilities in and around Boston; There are now 16 active Drug Court Clients out of the Charlestown Drug Court, which offers treatment as an alternative to incarceration.
  • 450 middle school students received LifeSkills, an evidence based substance use prevention curriculum at the Warren Prescott and Edwards Middle school. AllStars, another evidence based curriculum, is taught to the entire 5th grade class at the Warren Prescott k-8, and LifeSkills was taught to all 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. Additionally, the LifeSkills curriculum was taught in the Charlestown Boys and Girls Club to the 8- and 9-year-old groups. CSAC has trained 20 volunteer community members to teach these prevention programs. 
  • We conducted extensive outreach and relationship building to recruit more community members to join the steering committee. Individuals from 5 underrepresented community sectors, including local schools, youth-serving organizations, addiction treatment facility, faith-based organization, and housing, regularly attended coalition meetings. In addition, a clinical social worker was hired to fill the Family Support Circle position, whose primary goal is to increase communication and collaboration among Charlestown providers when serving high risk youth.

  • We partnered with Boston Public Health Commission to host regular community NARCAN trainings every 90 days in the recovery community, the Charlestown Recovery House and the housing developments. We trained 240 community residents through 12 NARCAN trainings. These community trainings inform opioid users, their families, and their friends on how to recognize and prevent an opioid overdose and what to do if one occurs. The training covers the importance of calling 911, how to perform rescue breathing and how to administer nasal naloxone (NARCAN).We are beginning to see changes in the middle school population.

  • We are beginning to see changes in the middle school population. The percent of middle school youth who reported current drinking (at least once in past 30 days) has declined from 19% in 2007 to 6% in 2014.

MGH Health Assessment of Community Now Going On

January 12, 2012
By

A new health assessment being led by the neighborhood and conducted by Mass General Hospital (MGH) has attracted a lot of interest in the community and is generating a great deal of discussion.

“It’s been exciting so far in Charlestown,” said Leslie Aldrich, associate director for the MGH Center for Community Health Improvement. “We’ve done this in the past, but it’s been less rigorous and it wasn’t so much a community-driven process. To have a community process driven by the public will be a first and it will be very neat.”

Under a mandate by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that came about due to the new federal health care law, all non-profit hospitals have to conduct thorough Community Health Assessments (CHAs) in the communities where they are present. Those assessments have to be in strong collaboration with the community and must involve numerous meetings and community approval of the final results.

The purpose is to identify community health priorities, and then develop a plan to attack those priorities.

Under the IRS mandate, MGH must conduct the assessment and finish it within the same taxable year. With that in mind, MGH has embarked on a very ambitious process in Charlestown, Chelsea and Revere – a process that includes meetings, small group interviews, quality of life surveys, and deep community outreach.

So far, though, Charlestown is pulling the cart in the process.

“Charlestown is leading because they started first,” said Aldrich. “Charlestown’s process will look different than the other communities. They’re really rallying around the large groups and the community meetings here. It’s been a great process so far in Charlestown.”

The first order of business last fall was appointing an Assessment Committee, which was done separately from the neighborhood’s existing coalition. That process took some time, but yielded a great group of volunteers led by Tom Cunha.

Aldrich said Charlestown’s appointed committee for the process held a kick-off in October and then had a very successful forum on Dec. 1st.

“There were more than 150 people there and we asked the questions about quality of life and what needs to be addressed in the neighborhood,” said Aldrich.

Later this month, the committee will hold another forum, and in the meantime MGH is moving forward with other means of outreach – including a very in-depth quality of life survey for Charlestown.

“We’ll be going ahead with the quality of life survey soon,” she said. “Then, we’ll do focus groups within the community. We are going to reach out to groups that don’t typically come out to events and forums. We’ll ask what has prevented the community from moving forward. Is it the political structure? Is it new ethnic communities coming in? Is it companies coming and going so often?”

In April, Aldrich said all of the data collected will be presented to the neighborhood and the community will have a chance to set health issue priorities for MGH.

Finally, the MGH trustees must review the plan and approve it.

The process must be completed by September, which is the end of the taxable year for MGH. Aldrich said she expects the MGH trustees to review the plan in August.

“The one real positive thing for us is having the relationships and trust already built in Charlestown, Revere and Chelsea with our existing coalitions,” said Aldrich. “That is very big and an advantage that takes about a year’s worth of work away.”

The First Annual

Turn It Arround 

Charlestown Basketball Tournament

 

Friday March 13, 2015

Join us at the Charlestown YMCA for a free pre-tournament pasta dinner 6:00pm – 7:30pm

Find out your team and learn about healthy choices!

 

Saturday March 14, 2015

10:00am – 3:00pm

LOCATION: BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB 60 HIGH ST CHARLESTOWN

Deadline: March 5, 2015

Face Painting/Raffle Prizes/ Pizza

 

 

Please Contact:

Derek Gallagher – Boys and Girls Club

Mimi Wrenn – Charlestown Community Center

Michael Letchfield – YMCA

Thomas Washington – Charlestown High School

Or Email Gretchen Wagner at CSAC gwagner1@partners.org

To sign up today!

 

How can Charlestown become a healthier place?

There will be a community meeting on Dec. 1, where organizers hope to hear answers to that question. The meeting is part of a community health assessment, sponsored by the MGH Center for Community Health Improvement and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, and coordinated, in part, by the Charlestown Substance Abuse Coalition.

Turn It Around Youth Group organizes drive to collect hats and gloves

The effects of the closing of the Long Island shelter are being felt all over the city, so it’s no surprise that when the Turn It Around Youth Group heard about the displacement of homeless men and women, the young people knew they had to act.

Charlestown Community Health Assessment Online Survey now available

Charlestown residents will have their say about the community’s overall health by completing a Quality of Life survey beginning today. The survey can be taken online or in paper form.

Mass General’s Response to the Opioid Epidemic

Mass General Hospital is on the front lines of the opioid epidemic. The MGH Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) program goal is to have substance use disorders addressed along all levels of health impact; from primary community-based prevention to early intervention and treatment to chronic disease management.

Charlestown Candlelight Vigil

Families touched by substance abuse will gather together in strength in Hayes Square on Saturday, September 22 at 6:30 p.m. for the fourth annual Charlestown Candlelight Vigil. The purpose of the Vigil is to remember those who lost their battle with drugs and alcohol and to give hope to those still struggling with addiction.

The First Annual

Turn It Arround 

Charlestown Basketball Tournament

 

Friday March 13, 2015

Join us at the Charlestown YMCA for a free pre-tournament pasta dinner 6:00pm – 7:30pm

Find out your team and learn about healthy choices!

 

Saturday March 14, 2015

10:00am – 3:00pm

LOCATION: BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB 60 HIGH ST CHARLESTOWN

Deadline: March 5, 2015

Face Painting/Raffle Prizes/ Pizza

 

 

Please Contact:

Derek Gallagher – Boys and Girls Club

Mimi Wrenn – Charlestown Community Center

Michael Letchfield – YMCA

Thomas Washington – Charlestown High School

Or Email Gretchen Wagner at CSAC gwagner1@partners.org

To sign up today!

 

Sarah Coughlin

Phone: 617 726-0059
Email: SCOUGHLIN1@PARTNERS.ORG