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Program, event tackle substance abuse problem

Boulder City’s Breaking the Cycle program has attacked the town’s substance abuse problem, and Judge Victor Miller is pretty happy about that.

“It’s gone really well, better than we thought it would,” Miller said.

Miller, who leads the board of the Nevada Community Prevention Coalition, spoke to residents about the program during the first “Be Kind, Be Boulder, Live Safe, Live Sober” on Saturday at Bicentennial Park. About 30 community organizations were on hand to help spread the substance abuse awareness message at the event presented by coalition.

The coalition, a 501(c)3 organization, promotes collaboration toward individual, family and community wellness in rural Clark County by addressing the problems of substance abuse.

“The program’s growing, people are changing their lives,” Miller said. “People slip and we bring them back, but I’m happy with the way it’s going.”

Miller said the program, which began in August, typically has about five participants at any given time. Throughout the yearlong treatment, participants are tested twice a week. Every participant starts on a house arrest program, and all of them must wear GPS bracelets.

“If they need or want to leave the house, they’ve got to check in with us to get permission,” Miller said.

The cost for each Breaking the Cycle participant is about $1,000 a month. Miller said the program wouldn’t be possible without the community’s help.

Last April, the Boulder City Sunrise Rotary donated $20,000 to the coalition. Two months later, it donated $30,000 toward the Breaking the Cycle program.

Rose Ann Miele, coordinator of Boulder City’s chapter, said organizations such as NCPC, and programs such as Breaking the Cycle address a serious problem.

“I think it’s very important to collaborate with other groups. It takes a village, and I think we all need to work together to try and handle this problem,” said Maureen Bird, director of Foundation for a Drug Free World.

“We want them (underage kids) to know that they can have a good time without getting wasted,” Miele said. “All of us are here together to find solutions. There’s nothing wrong with recognizing problems.”

Miele said if it were up to her, the legal drinking age would be raised by a couple of years to give the brain more time to develop.

“I’m not a prohibitionist. NCPC is not made up of prohibitionists. We’re in it because it’s not good for developing brains to drink and do drugs, and it’s not good for adult brains to go to the extreme,” she said.

Bird said her foundation’s message has become increasingly difficult to convey as recreational marijuana becomes legal at the state level. She said it’s important to know the facts about marijuana use, including the difference of marijuana, synthetic marijuana, and the lasting effects of more dangerous narcotics.

“The marijuana on the streets now is not the same as it was 20 years ago,” Bird said.

As Breaking the Cycle becomes more successful, Miller said he looks forward to helping more substance abusers get their lives back on track. For them, it’s treatment or jail, he said.

“You can see the difference as you see the new ones compared to the old ones. You can see the difference in how they address life and how they address problems,” he said. “We all have to deal with problems in our lives, but one of the things we do is give them ways to deal with issues besides using a substance.”

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