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CARE expands prevention efforts

Chemical Addictions Recovery Effort (CARE) is adding new addiction prevention tools for counties served by the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit.

The organization recently began hosting annual meetings throughout the circuit, during which local leaders, government officials, church leaders, and parents collaborate on the goal of making the community drug free. The meetings – called Community Education and Networking Activities (CENA) are held at local restaurants, a fact Community Prevention Specialist Rachael Cox says is by design.

“The meetings are held at a restaurant because studies show sharing a meal is a great way to communicate on a deeper level to solve issues,” said Cox. “In fact, ‘cena’ is a word for dinner in Spanish. Additionally, CARE holds an annual event in September called ‘Family Day’ which encourages families to eat meals together around the dinner table.”

Cox says she has been “delighted” with the results of holding the meetings over a meal. “We have been pleasantly surprised to learn that holding meetings in a restaurant has created goodwill and deeper relationships with those in attendance,”said Cox.

CARE also hosts other activities such as the “Bugs Not Drugs” nature walk, which will feature an entomologist from Florida A&M University to teach attendees about the various insects they may come across. This year’s event will be held at 9 a.m., March 16 at Pitt Spring in Bay County. 

Other prevention efforts include offering life skills classes in Holmes County Schools where students can learn how to cope with anxiety and peer pressure. Cox says these classes can be invaluable. “These kids learn so much in our classes,” said Cox. “These are lessons they can use throughout their lives.”

Cox states the classes, combined with the goal of the CENA meetings, will help facilitate community partnerships to bring prevention to the forefront, as well as teach children how to develop skills that will allow them to choose healthy coping mechanisms in the future and avoid turning to drugs. 

“We know there are substance abuse issues in our community,” said Cox. “But we also know how to break that cycle. Prevention is key.”


This year’s Holmes County CENA meeting is set for 4 p.m., Tuesday, March 15 at M&W Smokehouse BBQ in Bonifay. Washington County’s CENA meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 17, but a location has not yet been set.

For more information about CARE or CENA, visit care4000.com or email Rachael Cox at rachaelconrad@care4000.com.

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