About Me

My photo
Please join our efforts in Southwest VA to positively combat the substance abuse epidemic that has so negatively impacted our region. A united voice can make a difference. Prevention has significantly reduced the “litter” and “smoking” problem in our county and together we can definitely change the drug culture area as well! Are you or someone you know looking for help with substance abuse? Do you need resources relevant to the prevention, treatment and recovery from substance abuse? Or would you like more information on how you can become involved as a community member to prevent substance abuse? Go to to become involved.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Parenting...Substance Abuse and the College Years

 Dedicated to the health and well being of my three boys.

As hard as parents students today more than any other time in history, are more at risk of using drugs than ever before. Exposure through the media and the growing epidemic in American culture of prescription pill and methamphetamine use to the creative ways to experiment such as candy soaked in Vodka, to new the highs of synthetic drugs and bath salts are all evidence of this risk. The rise of this culture has almost made the consumption of alcohol the lesser of two evils in many peoples eyes. Take a good look at binge drinking behavior and college students you will be reminded not to stray n this direction!

So what is a parent to do? How do you prepare your child for these very real and expected challenges that they will inevitably be faced with? The typical adult response is to restrict access or exposure to these situations. You might want to consider something different as this approach obviously has not been effective as seen by the epidemic death rates in recent years of prescription drug deaths and related problems associated with binge drinking.

First , from a young age it is important to be direct and give accurate information about substance abuse. Secondly, we know that young people  who are college age are developmentally looking for power and are  willing to take risks. Most have a desire for purpose in their lives and are seeking a sense of belonging. Stress during this time brings the desire to escape difficult situations even if momentarily.

To avoid the easy migration towards college age substance abuse,consider doing the following for your child when addressing the issues and needs above:

·        Create opportunities and outlets to experience acceptable risks
·        Provide outlets where young people can experience purpose 
·        Provide outlets that nurture a sense of belonging
·        Make the concept of resiliency the foundation of your parenting by raising a child with the ability to problem solve, share a sense of community, belonging, and have healthy bonds to supportive adults.

Our purpose as caregivers is not to rein our young adults in, (although they need healthy expectations and consistent boundaries) but to nurture them to choose more opportunities and healthy options. Young people who have a strong family, a strong community of friends and adults who are invested in them and have a strong faith in who they are and who they want to be, will be the best equipped to deal with the dangers inherent in the current drug culture in America.

Remember …”It’s Our Community It’s Our Responsibility”….together we can make a difference in raising today’s college student.

Lori Gates-Addison, LCSW, PS


The Truth About Adderall


College Binge Drinking 



Each day...2,500 kids ages 12-17 try drugs for the first time.....they are 42% are less likely to try  drugs if their parents talk to them about drugs...





Harms and Consequences of Underage Drinking 


Learning More About Synthetic Drugs



Vodka-infused "boozy bears" pack a powerful punch and are difficult for parents and teachers to detect.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Southwest Virginia Drug Take Back
November 12

Hurry.....don't forget to participate....The American Medicine Chest will take place this Saturday from 10:00-2:00 at the Russell County Government Center (behind Wendy's) in Lebanon and the Walmart in Pounding Mill!5 Collection Sites in Wise County and 1 Collection Site in Lee County. LOCAL COLLECTION SITES: Walmart in Norton; Wildcat Pharmacy in Pound; Food City in Big Stone Gap, Coeburn, Wise and Pennington Gap!
dditional Resources on Medication Safety:
Medication Safety – a toolkit for families – protect your family: get the most from your medications
Medication Use Safety Training (MUST) for Seniors™ program is designed as an interactive, national initiative to promote safe and appropriate medicine use by enabling older adults to avoid medication misuse, recognize and manage common side effects, and improve medicine use knowledge, attitudes, and skills to avoid medication errors.
  1. Office of National Drug Control Policy. Teens and Prescription Drugs. Available at Accessed on February 26, 2010.
  2. US News and World Report. Medicines Top Source of Kids’ Poisonings. Available at treatment/ articles/2009/08/04/medicines-top-source-of-kids-poisonings.html. Accessed on February 26, 2010.

Friday, November 4, 2011

D.A.R.T. Recovery Drop In Center Needs Your Help

D.A.R.T. Recovery Drop In Center Needs Your Help
Clintwood Virginia

D.A.R.T stands for Drug Abusers Recover Today. Clintwood Virginia, in the heart of the prescription drug epidemic, is the location of the first recovery program of its kind in Virginia. Over 100 participants rely on the support and open door policy of the center to maintain their recovery.  

Southern hospitality is at the heart of Appalachian culture and the D.A.R.T center embraces the essence of that saying in a region that desperately needs programs that support recovery from addiction and abuse. Marlene Stanley a peer recovery Specialist helped start the program over a year ago with a grant for $38,00.”Some of the people that come into this center have no food, have no income," she said. "They get a meal here. They get a sandwich, a cup of coffee. They get somebody that says 'I love you' as they come through the door. That will be gone." states Stanley.

Since the drug epidemic started 10 years ago hundreds of Southwest Virginians have died. Marlene and many other revering folks have had to be creative to meet the needs of recovering folks and their families. Less than 4 years ago Marlene had eight people participating in recovery programs in Clintwood. That number has climbed way above 150. Marlene and others like her have been a part of the regional ASAC coalition as well as local coalitions fighting hard to expand prevention, treatment and recovery programs in Southwest Virginia. The dedication, compassion, creativity and “southern hospitality” that the D.A.R.T. center provides to recovering folks is invaluable.

The program cost $1,500 a month to operate. The program will close by January 2012 if funds are not secured. If you would like to make a tax deductible donation or offer support to the program, please contact Marlene Stanley at or find D.A.R.T  on Facebook

Together We Can Make a Difference!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

SW Virginia Drug Abuse Cast in Workforce Terms

The coalition has released a 68-page plan of action to address the prescription drug abuse problem. Its recommendations include increased outreach and treatment programs and the use of drug courts.

By: One Care of SWVA serving as a consortium of 16 substance abuse coalitions working throughout the 21 counties and cities in the Southwest region of Virginia.

Strengthening Families Program In SW Virginia

ASAC promotes the Strengthening Families Program to help with substance abuse. Having been raised in a Southwest Virginia family I know how important it is to have family values.  Substance Abuse has taken away some of the things we grew up to love most about our families.   Family meant someone always having your back, support when educau needed it most, never sharing joy or sorrow alone, and knowing no matter what family would never leave you.  We have to bring back those family values in our communities in order to reduce substance abuse.  At Highlands Community Services we have seen the positive results the Strengthening Families Program has had on youth and their families.  The Strengthening Families Program is a science-based parenting program, teaching parenting skills, children's life skills, and family life skills specifically designed for high-risk families.  Providing family based programs has to be part of the plan to reduce substance abuse in Southwest Virginia.
To learn more go to

by: Lisa Topshee, CPP
Program Manager, Prevention & Education
Highlands Center for Behavioral Health

Monday, August 22, 2011

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mountain Youth Drama 2011 Highlights Russell County Virginia.mp4Mountain Youth Drama An Alternative Prevention Program for Youth in Virginia That Works!

 by: Lori Gates-Addison, LCSW, PS
Mountain Youth Drama Director

Columbine, VA Tech and the current Prescription Drug Epidemic in Southwest Virginia are continuous reminders to me of the never ending need to provide kids with a "place to be heard...and a notion that they are not alone." Alternative opportunities for youth provide positive forums and mentoring atmospheres for youth to develop. Mountain Youth Drama has been a contagious way to build a sense of community in youth in a society that continues to be more self driven and less concerned with the welfare of others. Youth have the potential to provide a powerful avenue for change in our culture and they are often forgotten or discounted as incapable or just overlooked until it is too late.
Mountain Youth Drama is a special group of kids that have continually touched my life for the last 17 years. I am Certified Prevention Specialist as well as a Licensed Clinical Therapist who has given my own time at nights to facilitate a theatrical group of high school kids in rural Southwest Virginia. I am convinced these kids make a difference to their audiences and more importantly to each other! As we in Southwest Virginia are continuing to deal with the current prescription drug epidemic, I am again strongly reminded of the need for alternative prevention programs like Mountain Youth Drama that build resiliency in youth.
Mountain Youth Drama encompasses the prevention philosophy that when you offer arts programs to youth, you provide opportunities to foster resiliency and promote healthy development. Resiliency refers to children's ability to successfully adapt and develop in healthy ways, despite exposure to risk and adversity. Building resiliency is not something that adults do to or for youth. Rather, it is the process of providing a caring environment, creating opportunities for young people to contribute to their communities, offering positive alternatives for free time, and helping young people make a successful and healthy transition into adulthood. Specifically, the protective factors that mountain Youth Drama nurtures through its youth programming include:
Opportunities to Participate- Arts programs provide active learning, direct participation as well as health promoting and skills building activities.
Goal-oriented competence – Arts programs promote the development of competence skills, vocational skills and discipline.
Caring Relationships - Through relationships with drama instructors, choreographers, music directors and coaches, youth have the opportunity to be involved with mentors to support and encourage them to succeed.
High Expectations - Arts programs give youth the opportunity to develop patience, set goals, communicate expectations, as well as an avenue to receive recognition.
Physical Competence – Coordination and fine motor skills and an over regard for physical health. (Us Department of Education, 1998)
Cognitive Competence –Problem solving and analysis, evaluation, creativity and imagination.
Civic Competence- Through performing and teaching, youth involved in the arts see themselves as valuable members of the community.
- Learning Systems Group (1998)
Mountain Youth Drama was developed 17 years ago as an effort to provide substance abuse prevention through a theatrical production presented to youth throughout Russell County. The cast of Mountain Youth Drama is comprised of high school youth from all three of Russell County Virginia High Schools who audition each year for the group. The members sign a contract making a commitment to remain drug free and maintain passing grades at school. Through the use of song, dance and original drama, the cast of Mountain Youth Drama spends seven months rehearsing weekly to develop a show that reminds it’s audiences of the common struggles that youth are faced with during the adolescent years as well as the at-risk issues that face young people in our current society. Topics over the years have included teen relationships both with peers and adults, teen pregnancy, alcohol and drug use, child abuse, peer pressure, suicide, decision making and the everyday issues that teens experience.
Kids from all three of Russell County High Schools, representing a variety of interests come to participate, including academics, athletics and various arts specialties. 85% of these kids over the years have gone on to college, many come back to help with new drama groups developing their shows, and most all of them continue to share their accomplishments with me through visits , phone calls and e-mails. By using the arts, I am proud to ignite the concepts of teamwork, acceptance, tolerance, and the ability to build solid relationships in the teen years. I have seen the lasting effects blossom over the years through the accomplishments of many former members.
My initial hopes in creating Mountain Youth Drama were to not only provide a message of prevention through the groups’ shows, but to provide an added opportunity for youth in our area to participate in the arts. As a counselor, I have learned that youth benefit personally from an array of opportunities to enhance their self esteem. The arts provide young people with an avenue to sharpen their ability to be creative as well as present themselves on a regular basis to a group of people. More importantly this group has given youth a forum to address openly the issues that they themselves feel the need to problem solve. In light of the on-going violent tragedies that continue to occur in schools around the country, I am reminded of the responsibility we all have in nurturing youth. Mountain Youth Drama has not only impacted it’s audiences through modeling positive peer pressure to make the right choices in life, but it has been a true inspiration to me. I have had the privilege to watch young people take a stand for presenting messages that have not always been the popular thing to do with their peers. I have also watched them reach out to promote to their audiences a message of hope to students who may be facing a difficult time in their life. The true pleasure has been to witness the bonds that cast members have formed with each other which has proven to be a positive influence on all of them.
Rather than focusing on to much of the negative things that youth do, I believe we all must continue to make an effort to be responsible for supporting our youth and the positive things that they are a part of. The responsibility lies with all of us as parents, individuals, teachers, churches, the media and a community. Giving youth a vision of who they are and who they want to be, can only make a positive change on the future of our children and our country
Kids are resilient, curious, impulsive, creative, and they look up to and listen to each other! They long for supportive relationships with adults. Most importantly they are looking for a forum to be heard! I have been "listening" to them for years and the blessings I have received are never ending! Only the other week I had a member who graduated three years ago come back to share with current members that she hoped to someday provide the same inspiration to others that her experience in Mountain Youth Drama provided to her.
Please feel free to view more information on MYD at our website or our FaceBook page at!/home.php?sk=group_2348383709&ap=1 .There are articles and pictures that may give you some more insight into the impact and success of this youth driven group.
I am always inspired when I think of one of my first drama members who said "We are kids right here in Russell County VA., doing all the right things for all the right reasons"! We are proud of Mountain Youth Drama, we hope you will be too.” Becky Kimmel (Cast member, 1996-1999)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

How To Use Social Media In Your Communities Prevention Efforts.

2011 GOSAP Gang Awareness and Prevention Conference
August 24, 2011
8:00am – 4:00pm
Holiday Inn Koger Center
1021 Koger Center Boulevard
Richmond, VA  23235
Please  visit for more information and to register for the conference.

In today’s world, the heart of social interaction is through social media. Human beings are innately social, leading to interactions that define, sustain or propel behaviors whether good or bad. Get on board and understand how to become a part of today’s social culture. Understand how to use the web and social networking to create cost effective strategies for community prevention.  

Lori Gates-Addison, LCSW, CPP- Director of Children and Family Services & Prevention at Cumberland Mountain Community Services.

Ms Gates-Addison is the Director of Children and Family Services & Prevention at Cumberland Mountain Community Services. Over the last 24 years she has served the residents in rural Southwest VA by developing clinical youth services and writing over a million dollars worth of community prevention grants. Creativity, community collaboration and coalition work is at the heart of her success.  Substance Abuse Prevention…Our Community Our Responsibility, is her current prevention campaign that employs social media as a key prevention strategy. Lori was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for her work in the field of Prevention by theSubstance Abuse Certification Alliance of Virginia (SACAVA)

Dan Hunsucker, CPP
Dan graduated from Roanoke College double majoring in psychology and criminal justice with a concentration in psychological human development.  He began working with Planning District 1 Behavioral Health Services and Frontier Health in June of 2008.  His technological savvy and zesty attitude brings creativity and spice to the prevention efforts of Southwest VA.  Dan has been recognized by the Substance Abuse Certification Alliance of Virginia (SACAVA) and the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC) as a Certified Prevention Professional (CPP).   Today, Dan continues to add fresh fuel and focus to his profession: integrating technology and current adolescent trends into the prevention message to reach out and connect with youth and communities.

GenerationRX: Prescription Drug Abuse (Part 2)

This documentary tells the story four people and their struggles with prescription drug abuse and also of one woman overcoming the death of her mother, who passed away from the disease of addiction from an overdose. This film delves into the characters introduction to the drugs, their downfall from addiction into their rock bottom, and leading into their hope for freedom from active addiction touching on their recovery process.

"A Coalitions Journey to Fight the Prescription Drug Epidemic in Southwe...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How Are Families Affected by Substance Abuse?

I'm Sorry....
But I can't say that I am sorry.
I'm frightened but I'll never admit it.
I want you to like me,
But I do stupid things to make you made at me.
...I forget my homework when I do it...
and sometimes I cheat even when I know the answers!
Don"t you know that when I'm bad I'm in the most pain?
Please don"t give up on me...
everyone else already has.

-Anonymous Child of an Alcoholic

In Southwest Virginia the prescription drug epidemic has certainly taken it's toll. Death rates from prescription drugs overdoses have been well over 200 in the SW region.Drug related crime at times has been twice the state average. The rates of child abuse and children being placed in foster care continue to remain twice that of the state average. We continue to see increased mental health and behavior problems in children as early as Kindergarten. Since 1997 when a significant rise in drug use began to be noted, there has been a direct correlation in the number of children each year suffering from a multitude of difficulties.Culturally the historical family stronghold of SW Virginia greatly suffered.

A majority of children and youth in the region identified with family substance abuse are often living with grandparents or other family members due to their parents incarceration or even death as a result of prescription drug abuse. The stress of raising grandchildren and dealing with the consequences of an adult addicted child is heart breaking to say the least stressful.

Community members have begum to take a stand over the last three years in the area of substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery to begin to address the many needs of families and our children in Southwest Virginia.

Join the "ASAC Coalition"(Appalachian Substance Abuse Coalition) as we begin to share, discuss and tackle the needs of our community. Understand  through our successes in the areas of prevention,treatment and recovery and share that journey through our blog forum.

For  comprehensive resources go to our web site at or become a fan on Facebook.

You have not beat me, I am not done,
I am not finished, you have not won.
This is a battle, a fight, a war,
I will not surrender to you anymore.
My life is now mine, not yours to control,
...With you I am in pieces, without I am whole.
I used to fear that you were here to stay,
but fears are fleeting so now I can bravely say...
You are not magic, you are not the key,
to fixing my pain and setting me free.
You are no longer a need, nor a desire,
You are not a cure, you are just a liar!
You are an addiction, a disease I will beat,
A soon to be stranger I will never again meet.
No longer will bills, and cash for my meals,
be wasted away on these little pills.
This is the point I am trying to make,
My life is no longer yours to take.
My future now holds beauty that is real,
and none of it will involve you, the PILL!
-Matthew Comptom, Recovering!