SOCASA Receives Drug-Free Communities Funding

On September 8, Michael Botticelli, Director of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), announced 697 Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program grants, totaling $86 million.  The grants will provide local community coalitions funding to prevent youth substance use, including prescription drugs, marijuana, tobacco and alcohol. SOCASA was one of the grant recipients and will receive $125,000 a  year for the next five years to continue its own work, as well as $75,000 in DFC grant funds to train and mentor the new Prevention Education for East Ramapo Coalition.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)  is responsible for the day-to-day management of the DFC Program.

dfc_2015_8x11“Community coalitions continue to drive winning strategies at the local level to reduce the rate of substance misuse,” said SAMHSA Acting Administrator Kana Enomoto.  “SAMHSA is pleased to join the Office of National Drug Control Policy in supporting communities that are bringing citizens together to create healthy and drug free environments for our youth.”

Prescription drug abuse prevention is one of the core measures of effectiveness for local DFC coalitions, and coalitions nationwide have led innovative opioid prevention initiatives. For example:

  • In Texas, the Concho Valley C.A.R.E.S. Coalition’s “Mix it, Seal it, Trash it” campaign informs adults about the proper procedure to dispose of unused or expired prescription drugs.  They have placed two prescription collection units and conduct two prescription take back projects a year.[i]
  • In Arkansas, the TEA Coalition has distributed over 700 medication lockboxes and encouraged residents to lock up their prescription medications to keep them out of the hands of young people.[ii]
  • The Delaware County Heroin Task Force was formed by the District Attorney and County Council Members to raise awareness about the prescription drug and heroin overdose epidemic. This DFC coalition is focusing on the installation of permanent prescription drug disposal boxes and has partnered with local realtors to raise awareness about the importance of locking up prescription medications during open houses.[iii]

The DFC’s 2014 National Evaluation Report showed a significant decrease in past 30 day use of prescription drugs among youth in DFC communities. The report also noted increases in the perception of risk, perception of peer disapproval, and perception of parent disapproval in relation to non-medical prescription drug use. The report also found a significant decrease in past 30 day use between the first and most recent data reports for alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use among middle school and high school youth in DFC communities.

Background on the Drug-Free Communities Support Program

The Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program, created by the Drug-Free Communities Act of 1997, is the Nation’s leading effort to mobilize communities to prevent youth substance use. Directed by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), in partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the DFC Program provides grants to community coalitions to strengthen the infrastructure among local partners to create and sustain a reduction in local youth substance use.

The DFC Program provides grants of up to $625,000 over five years to community coalitions that facilitate youth and adult participation at the community level in local youth drug use prevention efforts.

According to data for 2013, an estimated 3,700 young people per day between the ages of 12 and 17 used drugs for the first time in the preceding year.[iv] Additionally, high school seniors are more likely to be current smokers of marijuana than cigarettes and non-medical use of prescription or over-the-counter drugs remains unacceptably high. [v] Parents should also know that 19% of high school seniors in 2014 reported binge drinking (i.e., 5 or more drinks in a row) in the past two weeks.[vi]

Recognizing that local problems need local solutions, DFC-funded coalitions engage multiple sectors of the community and employ a variety of environmental strategies to address local drug problems. Coalitions are comprised of community leaders, parents, youth, teachers, religious and fraternal organizations, health care and business professionals, law enforcement, and media. By involving the community in a solution-oriented approach, DFC also helps those youth at risk for substance use recognize the majority of our Nation’s youth choose not to use drugs.

Additionally, DFC-funded communities have proven to be more effective in addressing these complex social issues and have demonstrated an increase in positive outcomes over communities that do not have DFC’s.

Background on the Administration’s National Drug Policy

The Obama Administration’s drug policy treats the national drug challenge as both a public health and public safety issue.  This approach is built upon the latest scientific research demonstrating that addiction is a chronic disease of the brain that can be successfully prevented and treated, and from which one can recover. The Administration has directed Federal agencies to expand community-based efforts to prevent drug use before it begins, empower healthcare workers to intervene early at the first signs of a substance use disorder, expand access to treatment for those who need it, support the millions of Americans in recovery, and pursue “smart on crime” approaches to drug enforcement.

For more information about the Administration efforts to reduce drug use and its consequences, or to learn more about the Drug-Free Communities Support Program, visit:


[i] DFC 2014 Progress Report

[ii] DFC 2014 Progress Report

[iii] DFC 2014 Progress Report

[iv] SAMHSA.  Results from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health:  Detailed Tables (September 2014).

[v] University of Michigan.  Monitoring the Future Study (December 2014).

[vi] University of Michigan.  Monitoring the Future Study (December 2014).

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Talking To Kids About Alcohol: 5 Conversation Goals

This prom season, teens may be thinking about the dress, the tux, the dance, but parents may be thinking about the drinking. Parents, this is a good time to make sure that your child knows where you stand on the topic of underage drinking and that they know how what to do to stay safe and make good choices.

1. Show you disapprove of underage drinking. Over 80% of young people ages 10-18 say their parents are the leading influence on their decision to drink or not drink. So they really are listening, and it’s important that you send a clear and strong message.

2. Show you care about your child’s happiness and well-being. Young people are more likely to listen when they know you’re on their side. Try to reinforce why you don’t want your child to drink—not just because you say so, but because you want your child to be happy and safe. The conversation will go a lot better if you’re working with, and not against, your child.

3. Show you’re a good source of information about alcohol. You want your child to be making informed decisions about drinking, with reliable information about its dangers. You don’t want your child to be learning about alcohol from friends, the internet, or the media—you want to establish yourself as a trustworthy source of information.

4. Show you’re paying attention and you’ll notice if your child drinks. You want to show you’re keeping an eye on your child, because young people are more likely to drink if they think no one will notice. There are many subtle ways to do this without prying.

5. Build your child’s skills and strategies for avoiding underage drinking. Even if your child doesn’t want to drink, peer pressure is a powerful thing. It could be tempting to drink just to avoid looking uncool. To prepare your child to resist peer pressure, you’ll need to build skills and practice them.

Keep it low-key. Don’t worry, you don’t have to get everything across in one talk. Many small talks are better.

-Adapted from SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)

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Mixing Alcohol and Energy Drinks Ups Risks of Disorder

 A study from Dartmouth finds that teens who mix alcohol with energy drinks are four times more likely to have an alcohol disorder than teens who have tried alcohol but never mixed it with an energy drink.

Investigators led by James D. Sargent, MD with first author Jennifer A. Emond, MSc, PhD published “Energy drink consumption and the risk of alcohol use disorder among a national sample of adolescents and young adults,” in Journal of Pediatrics.

“These findings are concerning,” said Emond. “They highlight that mixed use of alcohol and energy drinks may signal the development of abusive drinking behaviors among adolescents.”

Several studies have documented a link between consuming alcohol mixed with energy drinks and the increased rates of negative outcomes while drinking, including binge drinking. However, most studies to date have been conducted among undergraduate college students. Sargent’s team looked at a sample of 3,342 adolescents and young adults aged 15-23 years old recruited across the U.S. They found that 9.7% of adolescents aged 15-17 years old had consumed an energy drink mixed with alcohol. Analyses showed that group to have greatly increased odds of not just binge drinking, but also clinically defined criteria for alcohol use disorder.

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National Child Awareness Month Youth Ambassador Program

National Child Awareness Month Youth Ambassador Program – 
Deadline June 10, 2015

National Child Awareness MonthYouth 16-22 can apply to YSA’s NCAM Youth Ambassador Program. One student is selected from each state. If chosen, you’ll receive a free three-day trip to Washington, DC, for training, a $1,000 grant to put your service-learning idea into action, and more!  Click here for more details and to request the application.

As Restrictions on Painkillers Grow, More Turn to Heroin

Once again, research indicates that as prescription painkillers become harder to get, users appear to be switching to heroin. According to a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) on Trends in Heroin Use in the United States from 2002 to 2013, anecdotal information suggests that people abusing pain relievers, which provide a similar high, are switching to heroin because of decreased access to pain relievers and the relative cost of heroin. The report also finds that mortality estimates from 2000 to 2013 indicate there has been an increase in the number of drug-poisoning deaths involving heroin. Reasons for increases in drug-poisoning deaths include the availability of high purity heroin causing users to accidentally overdose. Other reasons include some users switching from prescription opioids, which have a known dosage amount and chemical composition, to heroin that often contains varying purities, dosage amounts and unknown adulterants used to cut costs and increase potency. The report finds that the heroin problem in the United States has not improved in the past decade. The findings in this report suggest a continuing need for prevention messages and heroin prevention and treatment programs.

Read the full report.

Teens Drawn to Heavily Advertised Alcohol Brands

A study shows that the alcohol brands favored by underage drinkers are the same ones most heavily advertised in magazines read by those under 21, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) reports.

 The study, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs concludes that current voluntary industry standards regarding alcohol advertising and minors are not doing enough. “All of the ads in our study were in complete compliance with the industry’s self-regulatory guidelines,” lead researcher Craig Ross, of Virtual Media Resources in Natick, Massachusetts, said in a journal news release.

“Parents should take note that scientific evidence is growing that exposure to alcohol advertising promotes drinking initiation, and is likely to increase the frequency of consumption for kids already drinking,” Ross said.

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Changes in Drug Manufacturing and Dispensing Show Positive Effects

 There is some good news on the prescription drug abuse prevention front. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine shows that after 2010, when oxycodone manufacturers made it crush-resistant in order to deter abuse,  overdose rates fell substantially. The dangers of opioid painkillers such as oxycodone (better known by the brand name OxyContin) are that it can be misused by the person its prescribed for, and it can also be shared or sold illegally to others. At the same time as the crush-resistant form of oxycodone was released, there was also a drop in the levels of prescribing the medication, as healthcare practitioners became more aware of the potential for abuse.

The researchers concluded that “Our results have significant implications for policymakers and health care professionals grappling with the epidemic of opioid abuse and overdose. Changes imposed through regulatory mandates or voluntary company actions may be a viable approach to stemming prescription abuse.”

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Concern Over Growing Teen Use of E-Cigs

A study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says use of electronic cigarette devices among middle and high school students tripled between 2013 and 2014. According to the New York Times, “Two favorite flavors of teenagers interviewed were Sweet Tart and Unicorn Puke, which one student described as ‘every flavor Skittle compressed into one.’” While e-cigarettes are substantially less harmful than traditional cigarettes (and some teens may be using them in order to quit smoking), there is concern that—with their candy flavors and cutesy names—they serve as a new pathway to nicotine addiction. The CDC “warned that e-cigarettes were undoing years of progress among the country’s most vulnerable citizens by making the act of puffing on a tobacco product normal again, and by introducing nicotine, an addictive substance, to a broad population of teenagers.”

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Parents: How to talk with teens about pot

Between marijuana legalization, the normalization in pop culture and new ways of using (edibles, vaporizers, concentrates), it’s becoming more complicated for parents to talk to their teens. So where do you start? And what should you say? The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids has a “Marijuana Talk Kit” that can help.

And remember parents, it may not seem like your teens want to hear from you, but the truth is, what you say (and do) matters. And studies show that speaking out strongly against drug use means your kids will be less likely to use.