Last week, we launched a series called, Perspectives on Prevention. This substance misuse prevention program draws upon important people and their unique, ‘perspectives on prevention.’ Through the series we will hear from a retired police chief, the loved one of a person in long-term recovery, a person in long-term recovery, and an MLDAC.
Zachary introduced the series, discussing the importance of a community effort when it comes to preventing substance misuse. He touched upon the role of high school and middle schoolers in these efforts.
Our first perspective was from retired Police Chief Kevin Sanzenbacher. Sanzenbacher served in many roles during a long and productive career in law enforcement. Having moved to New England, Sanzenbacher has many roles including that of a director-at-large on the KYC’s Board of Directors. His wife, Estelle is one of our program volunteers.
Chief Sanzenbacher spoke about law enforcement’s evolving role through his 40 year career in law enforcement. He told us about a time when law enforcement’s main role was to arrest individuals who were involved with illegal drugs. While this role is still essential, he spoke about proactive approaches aimed at long-term community betterment.
He used three legs of a stool as a metaphor: the first leg is substance misuse prevention; the second is treatment; the third leg came in the form of drug courts, which could find more proactive solutions when people were convicted of drug related crimes.
Sanzenbacher spoke about the impact that a family member’s substance misuse can have on a family. He reminded us that some people have a genetic predisposition to addiction. The best way to avoid addiction is to never start misusing in the first place.
Sanzenbacher spoke about the importance of saying no, and the conundrum, ‘how do I say no, but still stay cool:’ There are certainly ways to do this; one can say they tried it and it just made them sick. He noted that under the best circumstances, the behavior of those who are under the influence is laughable and embarrassing.
Sanzenbacher identified substance misuse prevention as one of the biggest challenges of his career. He noted the long way we have come in addressing these problems, as well as the great need. His best advise: don’t start!
Thank you Kevin Sanzenbacher! We are fortunate to have a community that is rich with resources and individuals and agencies that are devoted to substance misuse prevention. By working together, we can make a difference. On Wednesday, we will get further perspective, hearing from a the loved one of a person in long-term recovery.