Year in Review

Coalition Against Substance Abuse gains traction in North Shore district


In an effort to promote a healthy lifestyle and community, residents from the North Shore Central School District formed the North Shore Coalition Against Substance Abuse (CASA) on April 26. In July, the board met to devise operating procedures for each committee, and established itself as an official non-profit. The directors also developed a mission statement, bylaws and programming.

North Shore Schools Board Trustee Joanna Commander said the organization’s goal is to defeat alcohol and drug abuse in the community. With this coalition, she hopes members from every part of the community can get involved for a better cause.

At the coalition’s first meeting strategies were discussed to combat alcohol and drug abuse. Four committees, each representing a district demographic — school, community, youth and parents — were established. Each discussed project ideas, and CASA created a board of directors.

CASA enlisted members from the Long Island Prevention Resource Center to lead a workshop on Oct. 2, to incorporate community input into its agenda, and identify what the organization wanted to address in its prevention programs. Short- and long-term goals were discussed.

CASA hosted an informational event on Oct. 23, which featured guest speakers Linda Ventura, of Port Jefferson, and Reisa Berg, North Shore High School’s social worker. The two spoke the opioid epidemic, and its effects on families and the wider community.

Ventura’s son Thomas died of a heroin overdose in 2012 when he was 21. Although he sought rehabilitation, more needed to be done, she said, in the earlier stages of drug addiction.

Berg, North Shore High School’s new social worker, spoke on how substance use disorders progress, how to identify signs and symptoms, and what resources can be used for treatment. The most important technique, she said, is differentiating drug awareness from prevention.