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Underage Drinking Panel Focus Group

Hosted by: Arizona Youth Partnership

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How does underage drinking and substance misuse affect your community?

Ajo High School participated in the Arizona Youth Survey (AYS)—a statewide assessment of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders on the prevalence and frequency of youth substance use and other risky behaviors—for the first time in 2018. In addition, local quarterly data collected by the Ajo Substance Abuse Prevention and Education (SAPE) Coalition showed a low perception of risk/harm in underage/binge drinking among high school youth. Since prevention of substance use also is important to our community, the local sheriff's department collaborates with the SAPE Coalition to conduct a “drug take back” day twice a year.

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

  • Mobilized coalition members or other stakeholders
  • Educated youth and parents
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Which Communities Talk resources (or other SAMHSA resources) were most helpful for your activity?

  • Communities Talk 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 reached out to the local behavioral health director to serve as a guest speaker at our event to facilitate a community talk with the entire senior class of Ajo High School. These young adults (ages 17 and 18) participated in a facilitated group discussion about addiction and their perceptions around substance use, including cultural background and physical and emotional consequences. The youth showed a high level of engagement and interest in continuing education about the subject.

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

  • Particularly severe or resistant substance use issues in our community
  • Unforeseen difficulties when planning our activity
  • Inexperience hosting Communities Talk activities
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How did you overcome these challenges?

We were able to overcome our inexperience planning the event by asking for help from the Communities Talk support team. We were able to address the substance use issues in our community by discussing the facts on substance misuse and offering additional resources and information about the subject. We learned that the cultural background of our attendees influences their perception of risk around using alcohol and other substances.

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What are your next steps?

  • Host follow-up meetings or activities
  • Expand our coalition with new partnerships in the community
  • 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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