December 2016 ASAC Action Newsletter

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Thanks to Toyota Financial Services

toyota-presentsThe Area Substance Abuse Council was selected by Toyota Financial Services to be a recipient agency of their employee Christmas giving program.

Through the generosity of Toyota Financial Services employees, we received 150 gifts and $455 in checks for children at ASAC. The gifts will be distributed to the children of residents in ASAC’s Recovery Center for adult men and women, the children in ASAC’s Heart of Iowa Mother and Child Recovery Center, and to our CD+ patients; ASAC’s residential treatment program for teens.

These gifts and donations will help make the holidays brighter for children who have a parent in residential treatment and teens in residential treatment.


Introducing ASAC’s New Board Members

jim-ketchumJim Ketchum

Prior to his retirement Jim owned and operated a printing company in Hiawatha for 30 years.  Jim has a degree in accounting from the University of Iowa and has previous board experience having served on the Board of Directors of Foundation 2 and the Boys and Girls Club.  On a personal level, he is married, has two children and his hobbies include golf, fishing, reading, travel and following the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Laurie Wahlert

wahlert-head-shotAlso a graduate of the University of Iowa, Laurie has a BS degree in psychology and over 20 years of banking experience.

Laurie currently serves as Vice President, Private Banking, at US Bank. Laurie is married, the mother of three children, and lives in the community of Fairfax.

Her community involvement includes the Corridor Women Connect Board, Junior League of Cedar Rapids and Rotary.


Don’t Make this the Season of Impaired Driving

By Jeffrey Meyers, Certified Prevention Specialist

For many people, the holiday season marks their favorite time of year. Holidays mean more time with family and friends, and a new year to look forward to, full of goals and plans. At the same time, December and later winter months also bring heightened risk for drunk and drugged driving, particularly between Christmas and New Year’s Day. It is then fitting that since 1981, every President has proclaimed December as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month.

When most people think of impaired driving, they think drunk driving, and for good reason. Driving under the influence of alcohol remains a serious issue, with someone becoming injured in an alcohol impaired driving crash every two minutes. In a staggering number of incidents, accidents can lead to a fatality. We know that in the year 2014, for example, nearly 10,000 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving accidents, which accounted for 31% of all traffic deaths that year. Though progress has been made, drunk driving has remained a significant problem such that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that, on average, two in three people will be involved in an alcohol-involved driving crash in their lifetime. Add to that the inclement weather, traffic congestion, and increased alcohol consumption that too often accompany this time of year, and one can understand why it is especially important to be cautious this season.

What’s important to recognize, however, is that impairment occurs not only under the influence of alcohol, but also prescription drugs, illegal drugs, and even over-the-counter medication. Thus while alcohol impaired driving tends to get the bulk of media attention, driving under the influence of other substances is a growing concern. In 2014, for example, 20% of drivers tested positive for at least one drug, up from 16.3% in 2007. The most common of these drugs was marijuana, at just under 13%. Contrast that with alcohol-impaired driving, which saw a 30% decrease from 2007 to 2014, and one can see that alcohol impaired driving is improving, whereas drugged impaired driving is on the rise.

Impairment can vary by substance and can be experienced differently, yet the risk remains very real. A person impaired by alcohol, for example, may have trouble concentrating whereas a person impaired by marijuana may experience an inability to shift attention and over fixate on one particular aspect of driving, neglecting other responsibilities. Both realities represent heightened risk, though the impairment may feel different between the two substances. Other symptoms of impairment can be found in alcohol, illicit drugs, and many prescription drugs such as lowered inhibitions, decreased reaction time, poor coordination and lowered judgement. When substances are combined, such as with marijuana and alcohol, the effects can become exacerbated resulting in even more profound impairment.


King House Celebrates 50 Years

cakeOn November 10th ASAC held an open house to celebrate King House’s 50 year anniversary. The event also provided an opportunity for local community members to meet Jason Rockwell, the new manager of King House.

King House, located at 2219 S. Main Street in Clinton, provides housing and treatment services for men 18 years of age and older in recovery and those striving for recovery.

King House was established in 1966 to serve as a refuge for men suffering from alcoholism.  The House bears the name of its founder; Dr. Ross King.


ASAC Holds Strategic Planning Sessions

strategic-planning-photoAt the end of November, thirty-four ASAC Board members and staff gathered to develop a strategic plan to guide us for the next 3-5 years. Phone interviews conducted by our strategic planning facilitator, Andy Robinson, in addition to on-line survey results provided a valuable insight on how ASAC is perceived by our funders, our community partners, and our own employees. This feedback provided us a picture where we are currently and directed the discussion of where we want to be in the future.

It is hoped that a draft of the agency’s strategic plan will be presented to ASAC’s Board of Directors in January. The plan should be finalized in early 2017. At that time it will be shared with the community.


Beat Holiday Stress

by Lindsey Elam, Certified Prevention Specialist

The upcoming season is notorious for being the most wonderful time of the year.  However, remember that this is not true for all of us, as stress can take away the joy of the season.  There are many events surrounding the holiday that can bring about many emotions and demands that come from family, friends, or even society in general.  Here are a few suggestions to help ease the stress this holiday season.

Sit down to make a bucket list of things you want to do and list the things you would like to do the most.  If the financial demands of the holiday season seems overwhelming, turn to free community events that can help check off the bucket list without breaking the bank.  If you are in a time crunch and are stressed by others’ demands, remember it is okay to say no.  If you feel lonely or depressed, try volunteering.  Sign up to help serve free meals at homeless shelters or simply do random acts of kindness to help brighten up your spirit as well as others.

With stress, it can be tempting to turn to alcohol to help ease those feelings.  Try some of the tips above to prevent yourself from getting to this point.  If those don’t work, remember that over consumption of alcohol can add to your holiday stress by potentially leading to more family disagreements, driving impaired, and even the horrible hangover the next day.  If the holidays become too much, remember that there are people around you that support you and help you through tough times.  On behalf of the Area Substance Abuse Council, we would like to wish you a safe and happy holiday season!


ASAC’s Festival Tree Finds a Home

asac-santa-tree-pictureITC sponsored ASAC in the Festival of Trees and Holiday Market that was held on November 19 – 20th at the Doubletree in Cedar Rapids.

ASAC’s Santa tree was one of more than 50 trees that were on display. The tree was decorated by ASAC employees Lynn Peterson, Erin Foster, Lindsey Elam and Laurel Merrick. Mel Hartz also contributed her talents to the cause by making 22 cracker ornaments. Lynn Peterson provided the creative vision for ASAC’s Santa tree. She also made the hat and directed her husband in the making of Santa’s boots. Erin, Lindsey and Laurel provided manual labor and moral support.

Pictured are the children of Nicole Bruce who purchased ASAC’s tree. The sale proceeds will be used to buy Christmas gifts for the adults in our residential treatment programs.


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