Founded in 2010 in response to growing concerns about illicit drug misuse in Transylvania County, the CARE Coalition is the primary catalyst and only centralized effort for community collaboration around alcohol and substance misuse. Scroll for an overview of the CARE Coalition’s history!
The CARE Coalition is formed in 2010.. Healthcare professionals at Transylvania County Regional Hospital noticed an increase in the number of overdoses due to illicit drugs in the county and decided to take action. Firstly, the group contacted Project Lazarus, a community-based overdose prevention and safety organization to begin duplicating the work that improved these rates immensely in Wilkes County, NC.
Next, a forum was held at the local library to establish volunteer workgroups. Transylvania Public Health provided additional support, as the TC Community Health Improvement Plan identified substance use as one of the top three public health priorities.
In 2011, a coordinator was hired with grant funding received by Transylvania Public Health from the North Carolina Coalitions Initiative (NCCI). The successful Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) model was used to train the coordinator and coalition members. After the training, the coordinator and coalition members were able to complete a community assessment, logic model, and strategic action plan to address Rx medication misuse in Transylvania County.
In 2013, a co-coordinator was added to the team to help prepare a successful Drug Free Communities (DFC) grant proposal. The funding would allow the coalition to expand its drug misuse prevention work to a much larger scale. In addition, it would also provide guidance and training for staff and community members on effective strategies for youth empowerment.
In 2014, CARE was awarded the Drug-Free Communities (DFC) grant. In the beginning, this grant gave funds for 5 years of prevention work with youth. The grant award lasted from September 2014 through September 2019. The funding for the coalition totaled $125,000 annually and was matched 100% by local community resources.
After completing a community assessment, the coalition determined the focus of the group. Underage drinking and prescription medication misuse were determined to be the most important substance misuse problems among local youths. This was due to availability and low perception of harm.
In 2016, CARE received funding from the Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking Act (STOP Act). This grant allows for an expansion of the existing work to decrease underage drinking in Transylvania County, including being able to work with college students.
In 2018, CARE received two more grants to help its efforts. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), expanded the coalition’s work with prescription drug misuse prevention. CARE was also accepted into a cohort of 10 counties to receive assistance from the UNC School of Government in establishing an opioid response team, which focuses the “downstream” effects of substance use.
In 2019, CARE received the next five years of the DFC grant. The coalition changed focus to underage drinking and nicotine prevention in youth, which data shows to be the most widely used substances among teens.
CARE was awarded a Rural Communities Opioid Response Program–Planning grant through the Health Resources & Services Administration. This grant supports the coalition in its initial planning to expand its collaboration into harm reduction, treatment, and recovery.