Monday, April 25, 2016

Recent police blotter reports point to the need for a comprehensive array of prevention activities

Recent SPD Blotter reports remind us why substance use prevention needs to start early and take a comprehensive approach.

On Wednesday, April 13, the Blotter reported that an "18-year-old woman's mother called 911 . . . and reported her daughter overdosing at her home near NE 50th Street and Sand Point Way NE."

On Monday, April 18, the Blotter reported that bike officers "responded to the Westlake Mall at about 6:30 PM Sunday after a witness found a 21-year-old woman unresponsive in a third-floor bathroom . . . strewn with a half-dozen needles and a heroin cooker."

Luckily, both times first responders were able to revive the young women. Both provide good examples of how policies that encourage people to call 911 if they witness an overdose and enable first responders to carry Narcan/Naloxone can save people's lives.

On Saturday, April 23, the Blotter reported that a 22 year old man "believed to be high on methamphetamine and PCP smashed a downtown Ballard window during the afternoon lunch hour and attacked customers with a shard of glass . . ."

Considering the ages of the people involved in these incidents, they provide good examples of why a well-funded, multi-pronged approach to prevention is important. Preventing drug use among teenagers can prevent drug overdoses and criminal behavior among young adults.  

Middle school prevention programs
Most teenagers who use drugs start using drugs by the time they are juniors in high school. The transition between middle and high school is a time of especially high risk for initiating drug use. That's why prevention programming in late elementary and early middle school is important. Many prevention activities conducted by Prevention WINS and partner organizations target middle school students and their parents. This includes evidence-based prevention programs like Life Skills Training and Guiding Good Choices.

Reducing access to drugs
But school-based prevention programs and supporting parenting activities proven to prevent drug use is not enough. This is especially true if drugs are readily available in a community, like heroin is now. To effectively prevent youth drug use and later abuse, policies that reduce access to drugs need to be adopted and enforced. As with the reduction of drug-related deaths, policies play a key role in a comprehensive prevention strategy.

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