Substance abuse town hall meeting focuses on local problems; Take Back Day tomorrow

Fremont County Prevention Management Organization’s Theresa Harmati led Wednesday’s town hall meeting. (Joshua Scheer photo)

By Joshua Scheer, reporter,

(Lander, Wyo.) – Fremont County Prevention Management Organization’s Theresa Harmati said a group at a Lander town hall meeting noted community norms and individual factors as contributing to substance abuse issues locally.

The meeting, held on Sept. 26 at the Fremont County Library – Lander, was the second of several similar meetings planned throughout the county. Riverton’s was held on Sept. 12. Meetings in Shoshoni and Dubois are in the works, but no dates have been set.

Fremont County Prevention, a newly formed organization that reports to the state, is conducting the meetings as part of a needs assessment so plans can be made to begin addressing problems, Harmati said.

The meeting began with introductions, and many of the more than 10 attendees worked in youth or court programs. Lander Police Chief Jim Carey was also in attendance.

Dr. Virginia Sutter of Blue Mountain Social Services said when she returned to the Wind River Indian Reservation she was concerned.

“I was really upset with what was going on as far as drugs and alcohol, especially with our youth,” she said.

Carey said the substance abuse issues are a “county problem” not just the reservation.

Sutter brought up the issue of the family and said parents need to be more involved with their children.

“How many (parents) at 10 o’clock know where their kids are?” she asked.

Court Assisted Supervised Treatment Director Melinda Cox said, “We see a lot of parents who use around their children.”

She went on talk about how the trends in synthetic drug use, like spice or bath salts, concern her most.

Carey said alcohol is the most abused substance his office sees.

“Prescription drug use is still big,” Cox said.

To help address that issue, both Lander and Riverton police departments are participating Saturday in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Unwanted medications can be dropped off between 10 a.m. and 2 p. m. on Saturday, Sept. 29 in Lander at Mr. D’s, 725 Main St. and in Riverton at the City Hall, 816 North Federal Blvd.  There is no charge.

Harmati said with regard to community norms, the issue of events like Lander Brewfest held on the soccer fields next to Lander Valley High School do not set a good example for the youth.

“Those type of issues were brought up,” she said.

As far as personal problems, Harmati said the group discussed how high percentages of people who abuse substances have dealt with traumas in their lives.