Armed with a name and a mission: the Wareham Substance Abuse Coalition

Jun 21, 2016

The name is the Wareham Substance Abuse Coalition, and it has a busy summer ahead of it.


On Tuesday afternoon, community members held their second meeting in creating a task force to combat the opioid crisis in Wareham.


“We don't know what the problem is yet, except for the fact that there is a problem,” said Connie Dolan, organizer of the coalition.


For their efforts to be effective, the coalition is following a strategic prevention framework that lists five steps to plan, implement and evaluate prevention problems.


The first two steps are assessment and capacity. By collecting data, the coalition will then be able to apply for grants which will help them build capacity and have more funds to work with.


Outlining the opioid crisis in Wareham with data collection is the coalition's main goal for the summer.


“It's the way you have to align what you're doing with the intermitting variables in the grant,” said Jessica Koelsch, a technical assistance provider with the state's Technical Assistance Partnership for Prevention.


The coalition will collect data from schools including disciplinary reports and conduct a survey in the fall with the Wareham Police Department and Emergency Medical Services. Information on the number of calls to opioid-related overdose incidents and number of youth for substance-related offenses will be collected.


Dolan decided it was time to put together a town task force when she saw that Wareham was underrepresented in data regarding the use of opioids.


She was hired by the town in February as its public health nurse. She attended an opioid crisis meeting in New Bedford and has noticed towns like Dartmouth creating their own task forces.


Thus far, Wareham's task force consists of community members, including but not limited to police officers, nurses, educators, a social worker, a Massachusetts Maritime Academy student and Board of Health members.


Data collection will help put Wareham on the map to receive state-funded grants used to implement prevention programs, she said.


During its meeting, members hashed out details on data collection in order to ensure smooth processes and the accuracy of data to be restricted to Wareham-only residents.


The coalition will reconvene in August.


To join the task force or provide assistance for their efforts, please contact Dolan at, or Koelsch at