Thursday, December 16, 2010

Youth substance abuse prevention: a strategy for everyone

Earlier this week I blogged about environmental strategies for preventing youth substance abuse and shared handouts from the 2010 DFC New Grantee Training. One of the slides in the handout listed seven strategies for community change.

As a coalition, Prevention WINS members understand that each and every one of us has a role to play when it comes to creating a safe and healthy community which includes preventing youth substance abuse. To put that idea into practice, each individual and organization can do one or more of the strategies listed above.

CADCA's Handbook for Community Coalitions goes into more detail about how individuals and organizations can incorporate these strategies into what they already do.

Does your organization integrate substance abuse prevention messages into informational programs dealing with healthy youth, community safety, parenting, and other related topics?

Do you talk to your children, family, or friends about how to prevent youth substance abuse? If your organization works with children and/or families, do you share with them information about prevention or programs that will help them avoid drugs?

Do you provide opportunities for youth involvement in pro-social activities? Do you provide them with the skills needed to be successful in those activities? Do you recognize them for their involvement in activities that reduce risk and enhance protection?

What barriers exist in our community that get in the way of creating a safe and healthy environment for our children? What can you or your organization do, in collaboration with other coalition and community members, to eliminate those barriers?

What consequences do youth in our community face if they use drugs and alcohol? What recognition do they receive for leading healthy lives? What do we do to reduce the likelihood that youth can buy alcohol?

Where in our community do youth consume alcohol or smoke marijuana? Can anything in that environment be changed that would discourage drug use?

Does your organization have anti-drug policies and are youth aware of them? How do our local laws and policies affect youth substance use? Are laws and policies actually enforced?

As you can see, there are many opportunities to do things to prevent youth substance abuse. Some can be done individually, in the home, some can be done within your organization, and others need the full coalition and community behind them. What is clear is that each and every community member can play a role in prevention.

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