ASAC: Appalachian Substance Abuse Coalition for prevention Treatment & Recovery

The Appalachian Substance Abuse Coalition’s mission is to inform and engage our communities to understand, own, and address the epidemic of substance abuse and misuse. The vision of the coalition is to have safe, healthy, and prosperous communities with effective prevention, treatment, recovery, and support resources. ASAC is an umbrella Coalition that serves as a consortium of ten substance abuse coalitions throughout the Southwest region representing the counties of Bland, Buchanan, Carroll, Dickenson, Grayson , Lee, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington, Wise, Wythe and the cities of Bristol, Galax, and Norton.

Strategic Planning

ASAC evolves and operates through strategic planning to assess and implement strategies which address the substance use problem in SW Virginia. ASAC follows SAMHSA’s Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) planning process for preventing substance use and misuse. The effectiveness of the SPF begins with a clear understanding of community needs and involves community members in all stages of the planning process. The SPF planning process is data driven, requires a team approach and focuses on a population-level of change. Having the SPF system in place insures that efforts towards OUD reach all ages.

Coalition Membership

The ASAC Coalition has worked collaboratively for over fourteen years involving a variety of stakeholders such as members representing following community sectors:

  • Youth
  • Parent
  • Business Media
  • School
  • Youth Serving Organization
  • Law Enforcement
  • Religious organization
  • Civic Organization
  • Healthcare Professional
  • State/local/tribal government
  • Other Organization involved in reducing Substance Abuse and Mental Health

ASAC has built its capacity of membership to over 200 individuals through strategic planning and training events. Each coalition member is invested in the areas of prevention, treatment, and recovery. ASAC’s Membership includes representatives from community service boards, faith based organizations, and social services, and the health care, higher education, schools, law enforcement, law makers, recovery communities and concerned citizens . ASAC serves as a consortium of ten substance abuse coalitions throughout the Southwest region. Project partners are involved in the needs assessment process including the primary stakeholders who administered the process such as collecting data, analyzing data, and reporting data.

ASAC Advocacy and Strategic Planning

Initially, coalition strategies where focused on awareness efforts to bring attention to the prescription drug epidemic in Southwest Virginia. In addition to advocating and supporting treatment and recovery alternatives, ASAC has been comprised of true pioneers in innovating strategies through creative prevention efforts both individually and environmentally.

Coalition recognition came with the first grant, Project REMOTE; Rural Enhanced Model for Opioid Treatment Expansion secured by the Department of Behavioral Health. Since the success of Project REMOTE many creative prevention, treatment, and recovery strategies has been secured and supported by the ASAC coalition. Local officials and state legislators are coalition members and advocates of ASAC both regionally and on the state level impacting laws that affect prescription drug misuse.

Over the years, ASAC has learned many lessons as a coalition from advocacy efforts and strategic planning for regional programs that are still currently being implemented.

Lessons Learned

Telling Our Story! ASAC has been a pioneer in bringing  innovation and collaborative efforts in SW VA to bring attention and advocacy to the needs of individuals in the areas of prevention treatment and recovery! Never underestimate the power of a rural community. As Margaret Meade so famously said.

In Medicated Assisted Treatment programs one size does not fit all! Successful communities have an array of services with protocols and program participant requirements such as case management and support program participation in order to achieve success.

Drug Courts provide the highest rate of success for individuals who complete the program. Wrap around services and support require intense community collaboration.

Multiple parenting opportunities must be provided to meet the various types of guardians such as grandparents, foster parents, and parents with drug exposed children. Offer different levels of parenting classes based on the recovery or active use of a parent.

Science Based School Prevention (Pre-K – 8th Grade) Collaborative grants written to train teachers and provide prevention school curriculum. Creates a shift in increasing community capacity in the school environment.

Housing Behavioral Health Case Managers in Schools builds the problem solving capacity among school staff to identify address student’s needs.

Faith-Based Recovery Programs can be the hidden jewel in a community.

Providing transportation childcare, a worship and experience and small groups is the connections faith communities can make. The recovery community can also be the solid rock of a coalition providing support and action.

Information Dissemination and Social Media provides community connectedness and awareness that recovery is possible. ASAC has encouraged messages that support positive “no use” community norms and encouragement for individuals to become involved in community collaboration.

Special Projects

Project Remote provided one of the first Federal SAMSHA Grants to provide medicated assisted treatment for rural communities at three year federal grant totaling $1.5 million 2005-2008

  1. Public-Private Community-Based Process
  2. Improve Assessment Process
  3. Revise Detox Facility Protocols
  4. Increase Office-Based Buprenorphine Capacity
  5. Increase Outpatient Capacity
  6. Integrate Addiction and Pain Management Services
  7. Increase Case Management and Role Induction
  8. Provide Recovery Support

The We Don’t Support Under Age Use Campaigns throughout the SW region of the state supports the prevention of underage tobacco use.  Activities include merchant education to sellers of tobacco and alcohol, drug free alternative community activities such as graduation parties, community New Year’s Eve parties, board game nights and community events for children. The logo can also been seen at schools around the region, public parks, community member vehicles , churches and business as well as community fairs, celebrations and health events.

ASAC Coalition Documentary The production and distribution of ASAC’S historical foundation coalition documentary, The Prescription Drug Epidemic a Coalition’s JourneyVideo Link Click Here can be found with over 33,000 views on YouTube. Through the documentary exposure, ASAC has presented coalition building workshops at state conferences within and outside of the state of Virginia.

Social Media Development and Social Media Training is used to grow coalition capacity of ASAC awareness and membership growth. ASAC has provided social media training at State Conferences for Both the Virginia State Department of Social Services and Virginia Community Services Board. ASAC has the largest Prevention Coalition Facebook page in the nation with almost 7,000 followers and an average of over 15,000 weekly views. See ASAC Facebook Page . ASAC has also mentored the growth of all partner county coalitions under the umbrella support of the ASAC Coalition to create a circular reaction of social media awareness and support throughout the region.

Keep the Party Alive Don’t Drink and Drive is also a regional shared campaign to reduce drinking and driving and targeted toward college age youth. Strategies involved local CSB’s, law enforcement, merchant providers of alcohol and college personal.  The campaign was originally developed and funded through a State Incentive Grant by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS).

Region III West Suicide Prevention Strategies include a regional suicide prevention conference, logo dissemination campaign, mental health First Aid and an innovative care and transition call back program, “ARE YOU OKAY?” created by ASAC members for individuals at risk of suicide. The logo dissemination effort provides community saturation of the suicide prevention continuum of care through the following creative examples: social media, restaurant and bar coasters, community stickers throughout bathrooms, schools magnets distributed to organizations, event street signs and door hangers.

Faith Based Recovery initiatives sponsored by ASAC recognize the strength of the faith community in the recovery of individuals and families. Seven community Faith-Based Recovery Initiative Gatherings across the SW region of Virginia have been held over the last 2 years. The event partners with professional and community speakers and local recovery programs to provide encouragement, education, support and mentorship to faith communities in developing local faith based programs that meet the needs of the recovering individuals and their families. To date, the events have assembled over 800 community individuals to the table. Mountain Movers a county faith based group that originated in Russell County has expanded to three other counties as a result of the ASAC Faith Initiatives. Mountain Movers has presented at all the ASAC events and has been recognized at state conferences through sharing their success stories.  VA Legislators have presented Mountain Movers with a proclamation in 2018 for their success in reducing foster care rates in Russell County.

Regional Prescription Drug Drop Boxes have been expanded across the region to aid in providing the region access to disposing of and reducing unwanted medications from being misused. ASAC developed and maintains a regional resource map on

Regional Recovery Directory of recovery resources and over 150 group meetings on the ASAC website

Health Care Provider Education Sessions are provided in partnership with the local county prevention coalitions to  Health Care professionals/practices in the ASAC region. Professionals include physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and office managers of health care settings. Participants are provided awareness of the following information:

  • Local prescription drug survey data results,
  • Community assessment data,
  • The role of the health care provider within the environmental strategy    aspect of prevention,
  • Local and regional coalition awareness,
  • Information on regional drop boxes and REVIVE Opioid Overdose Response Training,
  • Facts and a quick reference guide to using The VA Prescription Monitoring System,
  • Awareness of non-opioid pain management,
  • Awareness of the We Don’t Support Underage Use Campaign,
  • Promotion of the website
  • Quick reference on how to use the Virginia Prescription Monitoring System
  • Drive through decals with We Don’t Support Under Age use branding and warning of PMS use,
  • A mouse pad with the We Don’t Support Underage use logo
  • CDC non opioid prescribing alternatives and protocols
  • Environmental strategy booklet describing the campaign and the providers role in community change process,
  • Local coalition information,
  • Information on VA Prescription Drug Take back Days,
  • Revive Response Training information,
  • Map of regional drop boxes,
  • Explanation of Deterra Deactivation packets

Deterra Deactivation Packs are provided to providers and community individuals for public dissemination. Each pack is provided with a stapled information card that provides the following:

  • Postcard of local ATOD data and explanation of Deterra Pack use with a survey response scan code
  • Local prescription drug survey data
  • Brief overview on the use of Deterra Deactivation packs
  • QR Code to provide a survey response of use
  • Promotion of the website
  • Promotion of the We Don’t Support Underage use Campaign logo/brand

REVIVE Trainings been provided to train individuals, families and community groups on the use of Naloxone opioid overdose reversal.  Participants are provided with free kits.

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