Letter: Drug Prevention Task Force needs to fulfill its promise

To the Editor:

During a Drug Prevention Task Force press conference held last July, the first selectman was quoted: "There is a problem here and we need to acknowledge it. We're not going to put our head in the sand and pretend it's not happening."

Really? What’s happened with this Task Force as nothing has been heard since? The Trumbull Partnership Against Underage Drinking and Drugs (TPAUD) has actively acknowledged and addressed problems with youth and alcohol for the past 12 years.

TPAUD, formed in 2003 when a group of parents, headed by Vicki Tesoro, saw a problem with underage drinking and wanted to do "something.”  They searched for a grant that would enable them to educate both parents and students about the consequences of underage drinking - which should not be a "rite of passage" that was inevitable.

Realizing the need to increase awareness on a broad scale, Vicki Tesoro developed the 9th Grade Underage Drinking Forum for Trumbull 9th grader students and parents, emphasizing education, outreach, and prevention. This annual forum has been applauded by, and served as, a template for many surrounding communities.

Led by Melissa McGarry and Vicki Tesoro, the TPAUD coalition, affiliated with TPS, meets monthly. Our members include: Police, School Nursing, School Intervention and Guidance Counselors, EMS, BOE, Library, Recreation, Clergy, Counseling Center, Health Department, RYASAP, YMCA, PTSA, Students, Business and Community Members.  Along with programs at the middle and high school, we have provided a TIPS’s line, fund increased police patrols, a Drug Drop Box and have advocated for SRO’s and increased health classes at the high school.

We’ve recently expanded into marijuana and prescription drug usage/abuse.  Trumbull parent and student surveys show the largest area of abuse is alcohol, although rates are declining year to year. Marijuana and prescription drugs, however, are a problem in Trumbull, as in other towns. This is why TPAUD sought out an expanded grant to address the “gateway drugs” which may for some lead to the use of harder drugs such as heroin.

TPAUD’s mission remains the same: education, outreach and enforcement in an effort to keep our kids safe.
Mary Isaac