COSA teams up with barbershop to educate teens on drug abuse, HIV

Published: Aug. 15, 2021 at 12:18 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - While COVID-19 is a concern many are focusing on, the Council On Substance Abuse is taking time to educate the public on other health related issues – making sure drug and alcohol abuse as well as sexually transmitted diseases are not forgotten.

“There’s plenty of other health issues going on right now,” COSA project coordinator Trevor James said. “One main thing we focusing on is substance abuse within the community, and mental health is tied into that as well.”

The group says drug addiction is a problem in the area, which is part of the reason why it launched its “Cut It Out” campaign. The campaign seeks to inform teenagers in Montgomery, Elmore and Dallas counties about the dangers of substance abuse.

“There’s help. There is help for you out there,” James said.

Staff provided brochures and offered free HIV testing to educate and assist those 13 to 17 years old. The organization believes its critical to know your status.

“Your health is very important,” James said. “That’s something we always take very seriously and try to educate within our youth that we work with. It’s always best to know what’s going on with your body, because no one really knows your body better than yourself.”

COSA partnered with Educational Cutz, a barber shop in Montgomery, to host its awareness event. It was a part of a push to provide information in a more easily accessible venue.

“We can sit behind a desk and make phone calls, and things like that, all day,” the project coordinator said. “To actually be out in the field and people actually see us doing hands on work, it actually makes a difference.”

Educational Cutz said in addition to providing haircuts, the shop is a place those in the community can go for help.

“I feel like that’s peoples’ safe haven,” owner Lemuel Martin said on the shop. “To come and talk, to get advice, find out how to deal with your problems.”

The barber said he often hears from those struggling.

“You have people who deal with relationship problems,” he said. “You have some people who deal with drug problems. Some people just dealing with problems at home.”

He offers them the chance to vent and can point them toward programs like COSA for assistance.

Those who need help battling alcohol and drug addiction, mental health problems or other related issues can find resources on the Council On Substance Abuse website.

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