December 2015 ASAC Action Newsletter

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Project Night Night

A local group called Project Night Night (PNN) is providing totes to homeless children that include a blanket, stuffed animal and a book. It is part of a national program that was started by a mother who traveled with her young son and she soon realized that he always needed something familiar to help him sleep in different hotels. PNN is based out of San Francisco and has volunteers in all 50 states.Project Night Night

Connie Hauskins, a retired Mercy Medical Center pediatric nurse who loves children, read her story in a magazine and was inspired to put together a team to supply PNN totes to area shelters. Besides giving the totes to children entering Heart of Iowa, PNN also provides totes to Madge Phillips, Catholic Worker House, Willis Dady Homeless Shelter, The Shelter House in Iowa City, and Teresa Shelter and Maria House in Dubuque. Connie and her team have been supplying PNN totes for about 3 years and have distributed over 600 totes.

We thank Connie Hauskins and her team of volunteers. PNN helps to make the children who accompany their moms into ASAC’s Heart of Iowa Mother and Child Recovery Center feel welcomed and comforted.

The photo is of a Girl Scout troop that donated their own blankets, books, and stuffed animals to help fill some totes.


Dr. Michael Simison Named ASAC Medical Director

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Michael Simison has accepted the position of ASAC’s Medical Director.

Dr. SimisonDr. Simison is no stranger to ASAC.  Since 2009, he has been evaluating and providing psychiatric treatment to clients in ASAC’s adult residential treatment program.  In July of this year, he became the agency’s interim Medical Director.

Dr. Simison is certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology as well as the American Board of Family Medicine.  Earlier this year he was awarded fellow status by the American Psychiatric Association.  We are happy to announce that this month Dr. Simison also received certification by the American Board of Addiction Medicine. This is the highest level of certification a physician can obtain in this field.

We are very fortunate to have Dr. Simison as our Medical Director.  His background in psychiatry, family medicine, and addiction medicine is vitally important to the clients we serve. In addition to being ASAC’s Medical Director, Dr. Simison also has his own psychiatric clinic in Mount Vernon.


Eastern Iowa Heroin Initiative

In July, the Cedar Rapids Police Department received a federal grant to hire a local police officer to work on the heroin epidemic sweeping across the country; especially in the Mid-West.

HeroinSince September, Officer Al Fear has been educating the community on the Eastern Iowa Heroin Initiative.  The initiative has a three-pronged approach:  Prevention, Treatment, and Enforcement. Office Fear and ASAC have teamed up on the prevention and treatment aspects of the project. ASAC’s Prevention Services is helping Officer Fear provide information through community presentations, town hall meetings, and forums. In addition, we have created a handout for area law enforcement to distribute to individuals with a heroin or prescription drug problem to encourage them o seek treatment services.

If you would like to know more about the Eastern Iowa Heroin Initiative, check out their new Facebook page today!  We are pleased to be working with Officer Fear on this important initiative.


Family Treatment Court Recovery Coach

ASAC has added the role of Family Treatment Court Recovery Coach.  Family Treatment Court is a community based, multidisciplinary program, involving judges, attorneys, the Department of Human Services (DHS) and family support and substance abuse professionals, designed to support families within the Juvenile Judicial System. Family Treatment Court provides a supportive structure that encourages a sober lifestyle for parents and, where possible, the reunification of families. The role of the Family Recovery Coach is to engage clients early in their recovery process and help guide them in accessing services to support their recovery.

Cierra Roquette has been hired for this part-time position. She currently is a contractor with Children and Families of Iowa where she helps families involved with DHS navigate the system and she also works with Four Oaks helping families experiencing mental health issues obtain needed resources. We believe her experience in helping families will assist our Family Treatment Court clients in being successful in their recovery.


December is Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month

By Jeffrey Meyer, Certified Prevention Specialist

December marks a time of year of togetherness, family, and appreciation for all we hold dear. Yet you may be surprised to learn that statistically, December is one of the most dangerous months for driving. In fact the time between Christmas and New Year’s sees an average increase in fatalities involving alcohol impaired drivers by 34%. Perhaps it is then fitting that, by Presidential proclamation, December is deemed National Impaired Driving Prevention Month.

Just how big of an issue is impaired driving? First, it’s important to know the facts. Every day nearly 30 people in the United States die in a vehicle crash involving an alcohol-impaired driver, equating to one death every 51 minutes. Let us also not forget the non-fatal injuries that have the capacity to dramatically impact ones’ life, with someone experiencing an injury from an alcohol related crash every 2 minutes. The annual financial cost equates to more than $59 billion dollars, along with the incalculable toll on individuals and their families.

While driving while under the influence of alcohol tends to get the bulk of attention, drugged driving, driving under the influence of illegal drugs or prescription medications, is becoming an ever-more relevant problem. Annually, around 4,000 drivers are killed each year with drugs in their system, and that’s just counting those who were tested. In fact, drugs other than alcohol, such as marijuana, are involved in 18% of driver deaths. Once more, these drugs are often used in combination with alcohol, further exacerbating the impairment effects.

Statistics aside, how exactly do drugs and alcohol result in impairment and therefore dangerous driving? Both alcohol and marijuana are known to negatively impact ones’ coordination and reaction time, a potentially lethal combination on roadways where quick reactions are needed. Both also impair judgement as well as vision, namely peripheral vision, which can lead to potentially unnoticed road hazards. Many categories of prescription drugs can cause significant impairment, with symptoms such as drowsiness, confusion, and reduced judgment. Just as texting, talking on your cell phone, and other activities can distract drivers, driving impaired acts as a distraction for your mind, lessening your awareness and increasing the potential for making poor decisions.

Most people when confronted with these facts will undoubtedly assure themselves that they will never knowingly drive impaired. We must remember, however, that’s only part of the equation. The fact is we share the road, and those driving impaired not only endanger themselves, but put the rest of us at risk. For this reason, take the time this holiday season to encourage your friends and family to drive responsibly. By educating and setting a good example we can begin to turn the tide of impaired driving, and focus on the connectedness and joy that this time of year should truly be about.


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