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Communities Talk to Prevent Underage Drinking

Hosted by: United for Prevention in Passaic County

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Please briefly describe your Communities Talk activity.

We held a virtual Town Hall over Zoom, with guest speakers from the ASPIRE Counseling Center and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), as well as a local recovery advocate. Throughout the event we learned about brain development as it relates to early substance misuse, provided advice for teens who feel alone, and provided resources to encourage prevention strategies for parents and good decision-making for teens. The recovery advocate connected with teens and parents as she discussed her personal experiences with substance misuse. The event concluded with a Q&A session. Following the event, we sent resources from each of the participating agencies to our attendees.  

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How does alcohol and other drug misuse affect your community?

Unfortunately, instances of drunk driving happen frequently in our community, which is why we were fortunate enough to have two volunteers share their experiences with drunk driving. One of our volunteers is a survivor of a drunk driving crash, and the other has now been 10+ years sober after driving drunk. These stories were very eye opening to our audience, and we received lots of great feedback.

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What goal(s) did you hope to accomplish with your Communities Talk activity?

  • Reduce prevalence of underage drinking and other substances in community
  • Create an ongoing conversation about underage drinking and substance use prevention in the community
  • Foster collaboration between community stakeholders for continued underage drinking and substance use prevention activities
  • Awareness and enforcement of social host laws) to support prevention of underage drinking
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What challenge(s) did you face in planning your activity this year?

  • There were no challenges. However, in the future, we would like to begin the promotion of our event sooner to get a larger crowd.
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How did you overcome these challenges?

We made sure to use our stipend money to advertise and sponsor our event on Facebook and Instagram. Our digital ads had more than 1,000 views. While we would have liked a larger crowd, we were happy to reach as many people as we did. 

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What are your next steps?

  • 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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Which Communities Talk resources (or other SAMHSA resources) were most helpful for your activity?

  • StopAlcoholAbuse.gov website
  • Communities Talk website
  • Communities Talk social media content (e.g., Facebook, Twitter)
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Who did you involve in your activity planning, and who did your activity impact?

We collaborated with MADD, the ASPIRE Counseling Center, and a local recovery advocate. By working with these agencies, we learned a lot about what they have to offer and how we can all work together to prevent underage drinking in our community. Our intended audience was parents, teens, and public health professionals. Overall, we had a successful turnout, and we were able to reach our audience by getting the message out via Eventbrite.  

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Did the COVID-19 pandemic affect the planning or execution of your activities?

The COVID-19 pandemic did not affect the planning or execution of our activities.  

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