By Duran Bobb
With Warm Springs residents recently earning their credentials, the community now has six prevention specialists or the highest concentration of certified prevention specialists in the state.
The prevention mission for Oregon is to promote age-appropriate social, emotional and behavioral development programs, policies and practices. Teams in Warm Springs target such issues as suicide, tobacco, and alcohol prevention.
Rachel Macy and Scott Kalama recently earned their certification. They now join Caroline Cruz (Health and Human Services general manager in Warm Springs), Joe Marmo, Sarah Frank, and Michael Martinez in serving the reservation.
"Just about everything that a prevention specialist does falls under one of six strategies," Michael Martinez recently said. "Those are information dissemination, alternative activities, prevention education, community mobilization, environmental approach and early identification and referral."
In other words, the prevention team does not provide one-on-one counseling. "We consider the entire community as a client. Our goal is not to delay death, but to improve the quality of life."
For example, if children or adults are struggling with serious mental, emotional or addictive behaviors, they are beyond the realm of prevention and have entered into the intervention stage.
"We don't believe that bringing in someone in recovery and telling kids the way it used to be will prevent anyone from being engaged in destructive behaviors," he said.
On the contrary, studies have shown that such an approach displays to youth a model where adults once engaged in destructive behaviors, and turned out just fine.
"Scare tactics don't work. Rather than spending $5,000 on an ER visit, you can spend $1,000 on prevention so that someone down the line doesn't need to visit the ER so much," he said.
Martinez said he would love to see the community become more involved with the prevention program.
"The program doesn't belong to us, it belongs to the entire community," he said. "We always welcome feedback."
"The problems here are local; the solutions to those problems are also local," he added. "So we're not looking for someone to save us. The answers and resources are right here, right now."
According to the prevention team, Oregon is always among the top 10 worst drug-abusing states each year.
Warm Springs Health and Human Services may add three more prevention specialists in March 2013.