Charlestown is a community of great resilience that comes together in good times and in difficult times. You will often hear residents say, “How can I help?” or “What can I do?”. The Charlestown Substance Abuse Coalition (CSAC), a program of the MGH Center for Community Health Improvement, encourages participation in coalition activities. We will continue to reach out and work with Charlestown residents and organizations to address the needs of the community as the coalition has since its founding in 2004.
CSAC is a community-based coalition of residents, businesses, organizations, professionals, and advocates who work together to reduce substance use in Charlestown. Through a unified, collaborative approach, we use existing community resources, organize programs to identify needs, and harness the energy and commitment of all to provide a safe, healthy environment in Charlestown. CSAC works to change our community norms, attitudes, and beliefs about addiction and offers a variety of both prevention and treatment services to the community. New this year, the Charlestown Family Support Circle program identifies and intervenes with at risk children and families by connecting them to supportive community services. This program, a collaborative effort between the community and CSAC, was created after the 2012 community health needs assessment led by Massachusetts General Hospital and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.
CSAC has been working to increase community-wide participation and involvement in the coalition and has created four task forces that currently work on the following activities:
Youth Prevention and Education Task Force-Directed by the Youth Coordinator Gretchen Wagner
Provide evidence-based prevention curricula to Charlestown schools and youth organizations
Conduct prevention education awareness events
Host Charlestown student luncheons to promote community amongst Charlestown youth
Host Parent Coffee Hours at the Edward Middle School
Launch youth-run social marketing campaigns that address prescription drug misuse – Turn it Around
Navigation of Treatment and Overdose Prevention, directed by the Community Outreach Coordinator Shannon Lundin
Provide overdose prevention and Narcan trainings in partnership with the Boston Public Health Commission
Assist with the development, implementation, and client participation of the CHART (Charlestown Court Addiction Recovery Team) AKA “Drug Court”
Address barriers and access to treatment
Developed a comprehensive Substance Use Disorder treatment and resource guide
Family Support Circle- Advisory Group directed by the Family Support Circle Clinician Phenice Zawatsky
Focus on care coordination among providers
Assist youth and families with access to community resources and link them to appropriate referrals
Distribute a comprehensive resource guide to ensure Charlestown families awareness of community resources
Policy and Environmental task force, directed by CSAC Director Sarah Coughlin
Analyze environmental and policy changes within Charlestown
Create policies to address underage alcohol use in Charlestown
Work with Charlestown High School in best ways to support students struggling with addiction
Establishing a more formalized Charlestown trauma response team to help residents when a crisis occurs
Partner with Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery to advocate for policies that will improve quality of care for people who have a substance use disorder
If you are interested in becoming involved or learning more about CSAC and or the task forces please contact any one of the following people below.
Sarah Coughlin, MSW, LICSW, LADC-1
Shannon Lundin, LSWA
Gretchen Wagner, MA, M.ED
Phenice Zawatsky, MSW, LICSW
This article was contributed by members of the Charlestown Substance Abuse Coalition.