Compact 2020 looks to launch local drug prevention teams

PELHAM – Shelby County’s Compact 2020 is working with the city of Pelham to form a local drug prevention team to address the issue of drug use among adolescents.

Alan Miller, director of Compact 2020 and chief assistant district attorney for Shelby County, said drug trends are different from city to city, which is why localized prevention teams are necessary.

“The problem doesn’t look the same from city to city,” he said. “The effort to prevent drug use among adolescents has to go beyond law enforcement. We need the community’s help. We can’t do it alone. These teams will be the most important part of Compact 2020.”

Compact 2020 was formed in July 2016 with the goal of rehabilitating and keeping track of drug court participants, but over time Miller said the organization realized that drug problems often start in adolescents. The focus of the organization then shifted to investigating drug use among teens, but a drug court team still exists.

Through investigations, Compact 2020 identifies teens who are using drugs and reaches out to their parents to give them an opportunity to address the problem first. Miller said Compact 2020 equips parents with resources to help their child, such informing them of suitable rehabilitation programs. The hope is that the teen can be helped before the problem escalates to the point of law enforcement getting involved.

Miller approached the Pelham City Council at a meeting on Aug. 7 inquire about the possibility of starting a local prevention team made up of various community representatives. Local prevention teams are a relatively new concept by Compact 2020 to further combat teen drug abuse.

The council was responsive to the idea. Councilman Ron Scott was eager to explore viable options to help prevent drug use among adolescents. Miller said the prevention team will be made up of representatives from local law enforcement, fire and EMS, city government, business owners, youth service organizations and educators.

“We want a well-rounded representation from the entire community,” he said. “It’s going to be a lot of work – we’ll probably meet formally once a month. We’re in the very beginning stages right now.”

Once the team is formed, Miller said Compact 2020 will share with the team the problems they’ve identified and the team will tell Compact 2020 representatives what they view as issues and together they will come up with an approach and possible solutions.

“The purpose of this team is to push back against the current culture and keep our children from being tempted for as long as we can,” Miller said. “I believe it’s a forever battle and I don’t think we’ll ever get to a point where we completely solve it. This is a disease and it’s nothing to play with.”

Miller said an initial assessment of drug use among Pelham teens has been completed, but won’t be released yet because it needs to be further developed with input from the prevention team.

Miller hopes to launch teams in Pelham and Hoover sometime in September. A team in Chelsea was launched on Aug. 16.

Compact 2020 is made up of representatives from the cities of Alabaster, Pelham, Hoover and Chelsea, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, the Shelby County Commission and the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office.