Venango County Human Services Organizing Focus Group for Substance Abuse Issues

| April 13, 2019

VENANGO CO., Pa (EYT) – Venango County Human Services is organizing a focus group that will cover the topic of drug use in the community.

Venango County Human Services is seeking 10 to 15 Oil City and/or Cornplanter Township residents to take part in a focus group.

Ward Witmer, Senior Prevention Program Specialist, told that the effort is part of a needs assessment to help the county develop more community prevention.

The organization’s overall goal is to bring prevention focused projects in to help fight the drug problem.

“We have the intervention programs and facilities, but we want to bring more prevention in, get into the schools more, protect our kids, and maybe even help some kids help their parents,” explained Witmer.

A needs assessment is required to help determine if the group has the right programming or if they need to bring in new programming, according to Witmer.

“Right now, we know that with the opioid epidemic and the rise in meth use in the area, we know there are drug issues.

“What we’re trying to do with focus groups is look at different stakeholders in the area and see what the community thinks about the problems, what they know about the problems, what they think could be done prevention-wise, and what they would like to see.”

The focus group will be held from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16, at the Regional Counseling Center on Grandview Road in Oil City.

It will consist of answering questions about the topic of drug use in the area, and all participants will be kept confidential.

“We’ll have probably three or four specific questions – drug and alcohol-related questions – to ask, but then they will be able to have an open forum discussion on things we haven’t covered in the questions.”

Witmer said that he will take notes, and there will be no names written down.

“We don’t want people worrying about that, no names will ever be written down with comments. All of the ideas will get put together and we’ll start tallying up what everyone is seeing and saying and what similarities we find,”

Witmer emphasizes that the biggest thing people need to really understand is that this problem is affecting the entire community.

“It doesn’t care about demographics, how much you make, these problems are seen throughout diverse populations. People may think it will never happen to them, but they need to realize it could be a family member or friend, someone they don’t even know is struggling.

“We need the whole community to start looking at this and realizing they need to start fighting back instead of sitting back, not being involved, and hoping it goes away because this is not going away.”

Anyone who would like to participate in this group is asked to contact Ward Witmer at 814-432-9146.

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