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Empowering Teens To Make Healthy Choices: Parenting For Alcohol And Other Drug Use Prevention
Behavioral Health Services in collaboration with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
Please briefly describe your Communities Talk activity.
Our Communities Talk event was a virtual workshop for parents and adults in the Los Angeles County Beach Cities. We provided teen alcohol and drug prevention services to Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, and Manhattan Beach areas. Our organization, Behavioral Health Services (BHS), educated attendees on how the holidays are a time when youth are more likely to have access to alcohol and the risks for youth initiating alcohol and other drug use during the holidays. We discussed the data on the high rates of alcohol and other drug use among teens in the Beach Cities and educated attendees on reducing youth access in the home through safe storage, including locking up alcohol and prescription drugs. Our guest speakers included Eugenie Lewis, a licensed clinical social worker and family therapist, who discussed ways that parents can support teens’ mental health and prevent the risks of substance use. She provided tips on helping teens deal with holiday season stress and developing healthy coping strategies, and mental health resources were provided. Additionally, we had two substance abuse counselors from the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health, who discussed the health risks to teens who use alcohol and other drugs, including increased risks for developing a substance use disorder due to the impacts on the developing teen brain. We livestreamed the event on Facebook Live and recorded the event for posting on the BHS Prevention Facebook page.
How does underage drinking and substance misuse affect your community?
We serve the Beach Cities of Los Angeles, which includes the cities of Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, and Hermosa Beach. Underage youth in the Beach Cities use substances at higher rates than Los Angeles County averages. According to the California Health Kids Survey, students in the Beach Cities reported high rates of alcohol and drug use. Self-report of current alcohol or drug use doubles between 9th grade and 11th grade among Beach Cities adolescents, which is significantly higher than the Los Angeles Unified School District and state-level trends. By 11th grade, more than 20 percent of students report using alcohol or drugs in the past 30 days. In addition, adults in the Beach Cities consume alcohol at higher rates compared to Los Angeles County rates. Some of the challenges regarding alcohol use are the cultural norms around drinking in the Beach Cities and a high density of alcohol retail outlets (restaurants, bars) around the pier areas. In our prevention work, we try to educate parents to change the cultural norm and reduce underage access to alcohol. Additional information on the following sites: Beach Cities Health District and California Department of Education .
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
- Create new resources/materials (e.g., publications, handouts, factsheets, videos, graphics) to support prevention of underage drinking and misuse of other substances
Who did you involve in your activity planning, and who did your activity impact?
Our coalition, the Beach Cities Prevention Community Council (PCC), was involved in the planning of this activity. Our diverse group of coalition members consists of local law enforcement, the Beach Cities Health District, educators, treatment providers, parents, and community members. The three guest presenters for our event are members of our PCC: a licensed clinical social worker/family therapist who is also a Redondo Beach resident, and two substance abuse counselors from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s CORE Center (Connecting to Opportunities for Recovery and Engagement). In addition, we conducted outreach for the event with the local city councils, PTAs, PCC members, community groups, and local Beach Cities news outlets. The Beach Cities Health District and the city of Hermosa Beach posted the event on their community calendars. With our SAMHSA stipend, we placed an ad in both the print and digital editions of the local Beach Cities newspaper, The Beach Reporter. Our intended audience was Beach Cities parents and adult community members. We did not work directly with youth. I believe parents were impacted by the event, and they participated in the Q&A portion of the event. When we concluded the livestreaming of the event, our guest speakers stayed on Zoom, and event attendees were invited to ask additional questions. Parents had many questions on how they can help their teens cope with mental health issues.
Which Communities Talk resources (or other SAMHSA resources) were most helpful for your activity?
- Prevention-related webinars
- Communities Talk website
- Communities Talk planning guides
- Communities Talk support staff
- We reviewed the Communities Talk links and they were a great help - it s great to see examples of the work happening in other communities. Also, reviewing other prevention webinar resources are always a great help in developing ideas and content.
Did the COVID-19 pandemic affect the planning or execution of your activities?
In past years, we had our events in person. Due to COVID-19, we held the event virtually in 2021. We are used to hosting events virtually since 2020.
What other challenge(s) did you face in planning your activity this year?
- Lack of interest from the community
- It s always a challenge to get parents to attend alcohol and drug prevention events. Actually, especially alcohol events. They seem more interested in educational events on cannabis and Rx drugs.
How did you overcome these challenges?
We placed an ad with our flyer, including a QR code for registration, in a local Beach Cities newspaper, The Beach Reporter. Our ad appeared on page 2 of the paper, and we were excited about this. It looked great and we are putting out the message that parents can be empowered to reduce alcohol and drug use among their children. Also, it was great to livestream on Facebook Live to have more outreach and education for those who could not attend.
What are your next steps?
- Host follow-up meetings or activities
- Expand our coalition with new partnerships in the community
- Support new prevention policies, legislation, or social ordinances