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STOP Youth Substance Use Town Hall

Hosted by: Mitchell Yancey Substance Abuse Task Force (a program of Partners Aligned Toward Health - PATH)

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How does alcohol and other drug misuse affect your community?

Alcohol is the second highest used substance among middle and high school students as reported in our schoolwide surveys. Unfortunately, many families in our small, rural Appalachian community consider teenage drinking to be a rite of passage. Despite this lack of urgency surrounding underage drinking prevention, our community has been rocked by two recent car accidents that resulted in two deaths that involved alcohol. To make matters worse, North Carolina is considering bringing an end to the state alcohol control board, thus making hard liquor more accessible.

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

  • Needed additional resources to conduct activity
  • Unforeseen difficulties when planning our activity
  • Inexperience hosting Communities Talk activities
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How did you overcome these challenges?

The coalition leveraged relationships with the health department and a local mental health provider to support a photo contest depicting alternative activities for youth to participate in at social gatherings, rather than engage in alcohol and drug use. Youth and families had to attend the Communities Talk event in order to hear the winners and receive the prizes paid for by our partners. In addition, because of the strong relationship the coalition had with the school system, we were able to host the event at our local high school, Mitchell High School.

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What are your next steps?

  • Host follow-up meetings or activities
  • After hosting the Town Hall in Mitchell County, the other county we serve - Yancey County - has requested us to do the same.
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Which Communities Talk resources (or other SAMHSA resources) were most helpful for your activity?

  • StopAlcoholAbuse.gov website
  • Communities Talk website
  • Communities Talk toolkits
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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
  • Created an opportunity to share resources and practices with other community stakeholders
  • Raised awareness of substance abuse and/or underage drinking issues in our community
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How did your event make an impact on underage drinking in your community?

We were pleased to report that 100 people attended our event. Youth, parents, school staff, and community members were all present. We utilized a panel format with a wide range of panelists: an adolescent medicine physician, the district attorney, the sheriff, a school resource officer, youth from the high school, and prevention specialists. The panel addressed the issue of underage drinking from many different perspectives, which helped to educate and raise awareness of the importance of underage drinking prevention for all in attendance.

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