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How to Create Resilient Lives and Neighborhoods

Hosted by: Rockville Centre Coalition for Youth

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How does underage drinking and substance misuse affect your community?

Event participants standing at the resource table.

Alcohol seems easy to come by in our community. To accurately assess teen alcohol use in our community, we compared results from our 2019 Youth Development Survey with the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s 2019 Monitoring the Future Survey. From those results, we found in the past 30 days, alcohol use by teens has been significantly higher than the national average. Teens are reporting easy access to alcohol at home, parties, and outdoor events. Police and parents are regularly reporting serious issues with teen drinking, and the police report nearly 200 hospital runs a month for alcohol and other drug use.

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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
  • Made making good health behavior choices fun and engaging
  • 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 videos, such as College Drinking: Prevention Perspectives
  • StopAlcoholAbuse.gov website
  • Communities Talk website
  • Communities Talk planning guides
  • Communities Talk social media content (e.g., Facebook, Twitter)
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How did your event make an impact on underage drinking in your community?

Our event helped heighten our community’s awareness of underage drinking by sparking a community-wide conversation. It allowed us to work cooperatively among our schools, law enforcement, and local businesses to raise awareness of underage drinking, discuss prevention tactics, and begin to reduce alcohol misuse in our community.

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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
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How did you overcome these challenges?

Fortunately, we did not run into many obstacles. However, because of this event, we started conducting prevention education events in the classrooms and in the community for elementary-level students. Additionally, our elementary Parent–Teacher Association group is working on brainstorming ideas for the future. We have found that using materials from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s “Talk. They Hear You.” campaign has been extremely helpful in our planning process. We are also planning to gather more information to apply to our work during the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America’s Leadership Forum in February 2020.  

We are also working on some additional prevention events that will take place during our district-wide health fair this April. We are planning informational sessions for all age groups, which will include the use of the Fatal Vision goggles (goggles that simulate what it’s like to be under the influence of alcohol), since we’ve found that they are a very useful tool for kids to see how alcohol use affects vision and motor skills. Additionally, during Black History Month, we will be hosting a prevention program for the K–5 grades at the MLK Center for our after-school program.

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What are your next steps?

  • Host follow-up meetings or activities
  • Conduct research efforts to learn more about issues in our 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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