by Victor Lopez
MIDLAND--Bishop Michael Pfiefer has always been concerned about drug and alcohol abuse. So he started forming task forces or coalitions all across the 29 county area he serves. Now, he's bringing valuable information from San Angelo in the hopes their success can be a model the Tall City can build on.
"Good things are happening. I think there is more awareness of the evil and there is more of a spirit of cooperation and networking, but we still have very much to do," Pfiefer said.
Fighting the war against drug and alcohol abuse is not something you can do alone. It takes a concentrated group effort. The first of his three established coalitions is in San Angelo. In their first two years, Bishop Pfiefer says they have made some great strides. Tips they came to share with their Midland counterpart.
"We were invited by the Midland Coalition to come and talk about what we've been doing, our successes. We recently received a federal grant. We're just coming to share the directions and what we were doing to help the Midland Coalition take steps in that area," Julie Alonso, Director of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council for the Concho Valley (ADAC), said.
Alonso says the key to cutting down the number of kids and teens using and abusing drugs and alcohol is to stop them before they start, "Prevention principles are founded that you need to target them five years before the expected behavior. You hit them year after year after year, so when they are 13 and they are presented with the opportunity, they at least have the education to say no or make better choices."
It's all about education and awareness. Midland Police Chief Price Robinson thinks bringing this kind of program to Midland is a good thing, "Any kind of education or programs that could reduce drug and alcohol abuse, certainly would have an impact on law enforcement. Usually, a lot of crime is impacted by drug abuse."
Bishop Pfiefer says he's grateful for the support the drug task force has received, but says it's going to take a group effort to really make it work, "To overcome it, it's going to take the involvement of the entire community."
The Midland Coaltion and Bishop Pfiefer will meet again in a couple of months to talk more about starting a similar program in Midland. Something else that's been discussed before, creating a drug court. Chief Robinson says, given the interest already shown, it would do well, if implemented.