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Community Talk Town Hall Meeting

Hosted by: Healthy Dent County and selecting community service partners

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How does underage drinking and substance misuse affect your community?

Alcohol use disorders in Dent County, Missouri, are a major problem. Alcohol use by youth increased from 19.6 percent to 20.6 percent for those in grades 6 through 12, showing that our underage drinking rate is trending upward. Local interviews also indicate a culture of acceptance around underage drinking in the community.

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How did a Communities Talk event help you address those issues?

  • Mobilized coalition members or other stakeholders
  • Engagement with local government leaders and business owners to consider policy changes such as social hosting laws or restaurant worker trainings
  • Educated youth and parents
  • Built community cohesiveness and support for our efforts
  • Created an opportunity to share resources and practices with other community stakeholders
  • Helped plan future prevention efforts
  • Raised awareness of substance abuse and/or underage drinking issues in our community
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Which Communities Talk resources (or other SAMHSA resources) were most helpful for your activity?

  • Prevention-related webinars
  • StopAlcoholAbuse.gov website
  • Communities Talk planning guides
  • Communities Talk toolkits
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How did your event make an impact on underage drinking in your community?

We had more than 55 attendees representing all sectors of our community at our event. We had a panel discussion with a high school guidance counselor and three students who answered questions from the superintendent of schools. We also collaborated with the Salem Rotary Club, Salem Chamber of Commerce, Salem Memorial District Hospital, Your Community Cares Rural Health Coalition, and the Prevention Consultants of Missouri.

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What other challenge(s) did you face in planning your activity this year?

  • Needed additional resources to conduct activity
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How did you overcome these challenges?

Our biggest challenge was needing additional resources to hold our event. Despite that challenge, our success with the Communities Talk event led us to apply and receive a different mini-grant for another project to continue addressing underage drinking. This project will address underage drinking by providing prevention education to all 6th through 10th grade students and their parents. We will train high school peer presenters to provide prevention sessions, and we will educate alcohol retailers to prevent alcohol sales to minors.

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What are your next steps?

  • Expand our coalition with new partnerships in the community
  • Support new prevention policies, legislation, or social ordinances
  • Create a public education campaign to raise awareness and/or change behaviors around underage drinking (i.e., create PSAs and other promotional materials)

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