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It Takes a Village

Hosted by: Healthy Communities of the Capital Area

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How does underage drinking and substance misuse affect your community?

In Maine, we face multiple challenges in underage drinking and substance use prevention. Some of these challenges include legal medical and recreational marijuana use in the state; the opioid epidemic; small-batch beer from microbreweries with extremely high alcohol percentages (one serving can have as much alcohol as two glasses of wine); and “virtual parties,” where youth drink with friends through social media and video chat platforms while staying at home (most of the time, without parental or caregiver knowledge that they are drinking or using other substances during the “party”). To fight these challenges, our coalition members recommended highlighting social and family norms and shedding light on the local environments that support alcohol. Our presentation focused on ways to address the issue as a community, not just as a student, family, or school.

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

  • 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?

  • StopAlcoholAbuse.gov website
  • Communities Talk e-Alerts
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How did your event make an impact on underage drinking in your community?

The event allowed us to bring together critical community segments whose paths may not have crossed until now. Each group discovered activities they might undertake to help prevent underage drinking: the Rotary, Boys and Girls Clubs, schools, municipal officials (including the mayor), law enforcement, schools, businesses, and faith groups.

In addition to the event, we are hosting a gathering for adult leaders of all youth-focused projects in the local school district (serving four towns) to identify ways to communicate, collaborate, network, and support each other in building protective factors to prevent underage drinking, as well as develop strategies to engage more youth in these diverse programs. The groups include faith-based youth groups, 4-H organizations, and karate and other after-school teams, to name a few.

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

  • Needed additional resources to conduct activity
  • Lack of interest from the community
  • Severe weather cancelled several popular events in the community prior to our Communities Talk event. One of those events, a band/chorus concert, was rescheduled for the same night as the town meeting, which pulled interest away from our event.
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How did you overcome these challenges?

The Boys and Girls Club (BGC) youth leaders personally invited the mayor, the school superintendent, and Rotary members to attend. The BGC donated light refreshments and the local baseball club, the Sea Dogs, provided free game tickets to participants.

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What are your next steps?

  • Create social-norming messages with high school students for other students.

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