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We All See Addiction

Hosted by: St. Bernard’s Academy

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How does underage drinking and substance misuse affect your community?

Event panel

Humboldt County faces significant substance misuse issues. In addition, many youths are dealing with adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). In fact, residents of Humboldt and Mendocino counties are affected by a higher number of ACEs than any other county across the state, according to a study that surveyed occurrences of abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction statewide. This local reality led our St. Bernard's Academy leadership class to host a town hall meeting focused on understanding addiction.

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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
  • Made making good health behavior choices fun and engaging
  • Raised awareness of substance abuse and/or underage drinking issues in our community
  • Our Town Hall was student led with a primary goal of allowing students to ask questions about how addiction affects people. The leadership class invited recovering addicts, their family members, and substance abuse professionals to share their testimonials and answer student questions.
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Which Communities Talk resources (or other SAMHSA resources) were most helpful for your activity?

Event speaker
  • Communities Talk website
  • Communities Talk planning guides
  • Communities Talk toolkits
  • Communities Talk social media content (e.g., Facebook, Twitter)
  • Communities Talk support staff
  • Humboldt County Friday Night Live coordinator Sarah Nelson
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How did your event make an impact on underage drinking in your community?

A total of 250 students from the 7th to 12th grades attended our event, along with parents, business owners, public health employees, and the media. Five guests—a probation officer, an individual in recovery, an addiction counselor, an individual in recovery from alcohol use disorder (AUD), and a family member whose brother died due to substance misuse—all answered student questions to raise awareness that addiction does not discriminate; it can affect everyone’s life in some way. The group shared testimonials and memories about addiction and the toll it takes on the individual experiencing it, their friends, and their family.

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

  • We struggled for a time to find an addiction counselor, who focused in particular on youth addiction, to participate on the panel.
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How did you overcome these challenges?

With support from Humboldt County Public Health and our Friday Night Live Coordinator, we were able to expand our outreach and invite a youth addiction counselor to participate on the panel. Our youth addiction counselor offered professional insight and resources as part of the discussion, which was very helpful and served as a call to action for the students after the event was over.

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What are your next steps?

Group asks questions
  • Host follow-up meetings or activities
  • Expand our coalition with new partnerships in the community
  • The St Bernards Academy leadership class has continued to focus on addiction prevention and awareness during the 2019-20 school year

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