Our One Day at a Time mission is to reduce drug abuse in Little Rock at a one day at a time pace. Our approach, begun 15 years ago, is to:
- Further define and inventory available resources in our community, which are needed for recovery including medical, churches, AA and other 12 Step programs, law enforcement and programs for teens, vets, prison inmates and other vulnerable populations.
- Survey public opinion (local feelings about addressing the addiction problem and how to solve it) through available data and through polling.
- Simultaneously begin to develop programs and resources needed for dealing with substance abuse problems.
Here is a brief outline of our short term goals, source of funds and plan of action based, in part, on building on the city’s history of dealing with addictions which began in 1940, a scant five years after the founding of AA in 1935.
Short Term Goals
- Position One Day at a Time as a valuable non-profit resource on substance abuse and recovery and a model for other communities both inside and outside the state. Provide educational, cultural and life-changing initiatives for addicts, those on the path to recovery, families and friends of substance abusers, healthcare professionals and businesses.
- Work with legislators and begin to identify priority issues for an ODAT legislative agenda. Expand our website to offer more resources including listings of treatment and transition facilities, churches, employment opportunities, 12 Step meetings, books, education and employment opportunities and commentaries.
- Create a speakers bureau, which would include inmates, teenagers, healthcare professionals, veterans and other in recovery.
- Develop further our presence on Facebook, Twitter and Linked-in
- Increase revenue through tax-deductible contributions, advertising, speaker fees, special events (some collaborative), book sales and others.
- Identify grant opportunities, create a grant calendar and begin developing proposals.
- Create and implement activities for prison, adolescent/college and veteran prison inmates. We have a good track record since our founding in mid 2004 and through God’s grace we will do our best to make a difference.
Public Relations and Marketing
We are a 501 (c) 3 company and seek funding with the following seven sources of revenue in mind:
- Hospitals and addiction treatment facilities
- Web and social media advertising and promotion
- Special events
- Support from local government
- Book publishing
Reviving the “Fighting Back” initiative
There was a spectacular shoot-out at Little Rock’s “Power Ultra Lounge” nightclub in July 2017, which sent 25 people to the hospital with gun shot wounds. Miraculously, there were no deaths.
Little Rock mayor, Mark Stodala responded to the night club shooting with a promise to beef up law enforcement, especially in light of the city’s record crime rate and take other steps as necessary to fight back.
Stodala said the department was short 80 policemen, an increase in vacancies from 58 last summer, and he added, “Obviously, we should do more to defend our community from drug dealers.”
We agree. We should, of course, do what we can to shut down the supply of drugs coming into our community through drug dealers, but drying up the demand for drugs is where the more lasting solution lies and should be our long-term focus.
To break their habit, consumers of drugs will need help with their recovery-mental, physical and spiritual help-and it’s in our community’s best interest, as well as the addict’s, to help them get it.
The good news is that Little Rock, has the resources–hospitals, churches, 12 Step meetings and the experience—going back close to 80 years–to provide the necessary support.
Just as an aside, my own recovery began in 1980 with regular attendance at Little Rock’s Cosmopolitan Club, a daily AA meeting that was usually packed. “Cosmo” was organized a few years after the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous in Akron Ohio in 1935.
Another outstanding Little Rock resource is the Wolfe Street Center, founded by the late Joe McQuany, Gene Walter and Jerry Cathey in 1984. McQuany, an author, international speaker on alcoholism and founder of two treatment facilities was black and a leader in integrating 12 Step meetings in Little Rock and other Arkansas communities.
He was also an astute observer of human nature and the exercise of faith.
“I look at the battles that go on in life,” Joe once said, “and I look at the resentments and fears, guilt and remorse and how these things block us from God and shackle us to the self.
“Then I look at love, tolerance, patience, courage and wisdom. These qualities come from God, and they are always within us. In our outer and inner conflicts, we can see the powers of self contending with the powers of God.
Joe, it should be said, was very practical about exercising his faith. “Somebody told me once,” he said, “that when you pray for potatoes, the next thing you do is go get a spade and start digging.”
The Wolfe Street Center provides 12 Step meetings seven days a week and is a haven for people in recovery whoever they are and whatever their circumstances.
In 1889, in an effort to reframe the national conversation about the use of illegal drugs and alcohol, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) launched “Fighting Back” a public health initiative aimed at substance abuse.
Part plan and part hypothesis, Fighting Back was a seven year experiment designed to help mid sized communities (population range: 100,000 to 250,000) reduce the demand for illegal drugs and alcohol.”
Dr. Anderson Spickard Jr, a psychiatrist and professor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee was named director of the multi million-dollar Fighting Back project.
The hope was that Fighting Back sites (Little Rock was one of them) would help answer two important questions:
- Could midsized communities come together to design and implement a comprehensive public health strategy addressing substance abuse?
- If implemented, would a comprehensive system significantly reduce the number of substance abusers within the community?
Barbara R. Thompson with input and other help from Dr. Spickard wrote a book “Fighting Back, the first 8 years,” an invaluable recounting of the project.
From Thompson’s book
“The use and abuse of illegal drugs and alcohol is perhaps the most disturbing and destructive social problem facing the United States,” Thompson said. “One in ten drinkers is addicted to alcohol, young people are abusing illegal drugs in increasing numbers and the sale of crack [note: today, 28 years later, opioides are in vogue with drug abusers] has decimated our inner cities.
“As an increasing number of people experience firsthand the devastating consequences of substance abuse, there is a growing movement to ‘fight back’ and reclaim our communities.
“These efforts usually focus on stepped up law enforcement, hiring more police officers, increasing penalties for drunk driving, handing out stiffer sentences for selling illegal drugs. When these tactics fall short, most communities choose, mistakenly, to pursue them more aggressively.”
Largely missing from local discussion about addiction at that time, and even now to some extent, was the possibility of a comprehensive community wide strategy for the prevention and treatment of substance abuse.
An alarming picture
The response to the foundation’s call for proposals caught even veteran observers of the substance abuse field by surprise. Three hundred thirty one communities from 46 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico submitted lengthy proposals.
“Proposal after proposal told the same story.” Thompson’s book said. “Crack Cocaine had joined forces with alcohol abuse to shred the fabric of once stable communities. The complex web of social problems related to substance abuse overwhelmed compartmentalized government agencies and understaffed nonprofit organizations.
“In many communities, the problems had reached such proportions that individual citizens were risking personal harm to stand up to drug dealers-on street corners and even on their own doorsteps.”
“Yet in almost every case, we have witnessed first hand the power of good leadership and the ability of citizens to move from paralysis to effective action.
“In the process, we have come to believe that, despite an air of national discouragement, almost all our communities have the talent and resources to tackle the numerous problems of substance abuse from a public health perspective.
“Although, the specific form of an effective program is not necessarily transferable from one community to another, our Fighting Back sites have benefited enormously from exchanging ideas and programs with one another.
“It is our hope that this document will enable that cross fertilization to take place at a country wide level and contribute to the national dialogue on drugs and alcohol abuse.
“Finally, we are continually reminded of the sacrifice and courage required by those on the front line of the Fighting Back program. Fighting Back staff and volunteers have experience a firebomb, shootings, and most tragically the death of a volunteer’s son who was executed by drug lords seeking revenge for her anti-drug activities.
“These incidents, and many others, remind us that we are participants not merely in an academic process, but in matters of life and death—for ourselves, our communities and our nation.”
Community assets and focus
Little Rock’s assets include excellent hospitals (dealing with both mental health and drug addiction problems), community-focused and entrepreneurial churches, traditional 12 step programs and a history of proactively dealing with addictions dating back to 1940. The plan is focused on:
- Reducing the demand for alcohol and other drugs by promoting recovery while maintaining adequate law enforcement protection to limit the supply.
- . Forming collaborations with other organizations with complementary objectives.
- . Promoting healthy lifestyles in spirit, mind and body.
- . Encouraging the interest and support of local governments.