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Communities Talk: Underage Drinking and Drugs, Prevention, and Getting Help

Hosted by: The Snellville Church of Christ

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Please briefly describe your Communities Talk activity.

The Snellville Church of Christ hosted and marketed this live event on October 17, 2021, in the Snellville, Georgia, community. A flyer was developed for the event that included the name of the event, time, location, goals, and details about the workshop and luncheon. This luncheon event was held prior to a workshop and was conducted by Dr. Lucy R. Cannon. This event was promoted on Facebook and the Snellville Church of Christ website. The event was also posted in the church bulletin two to three times over a 2-month time frame. Dr. Cannon also did a 2- to 3-minute video informing viewers about underage drinking and the workshop objectives. This workshop was promoted to all the Snellville Schools near the church, Snellville Police Department, and other community organizations.

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How does underage drinking and substance misuse affect your community?

Underage drinking and substance misuse affect most of the metropolitan Atlanta communities. An article was published in October 2020 shared “Unincorporated Snellville’s Alcohol Compliance Rate for Gwinnett County was at 66.7% from April 2020 to September 2020. Underage drinking is a critical issue that requires attention in Gwinnett County. One way to reduce access to alcohol for our teens is by conducting compliance checks. During these checks, an underage decoy goes inside a restaurant or store and tries to purchase alcohol. If an employee sells to the decoy, he or she receives a citation. This serves as a clear reminder to check IDs and not sell alcohol to individuals under age 21. Establishments that sell alcohol to underage minors, will serve jail time and pay a fine of up to 1,000.00 . The Snellville Community GUIDE Organization recognized and showed appreciation to the Unincorporated Snellville retailers that did not sell alcohol during compliance checks from April 2020 to September 2020. These stores helped us to ensure that the teens in our community stay safe and helped prevent underage drinking.

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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
  • Create new resources/materials (e.g., publications, handouts, factsheets, videos, graphics) to support prevention of underage drinking and misuse of other substances
  • Awareness and enforcement of social host laws) to support prevention of underage drinking
  • Encourage community and local businesses to implement measures to prevent underage drinking (e.g., restricting or decreasing sales of alcohol at community events; conducting responsible beverage service training)
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Who did you involve in your activity planning, and who did your activity impact?

Our Ministers and Elders were on board from the start of this community project. They did a great job of developing flyers and announcements, posting information about the event on Facebook, and providing ongoing information in the Snellville Church of Christ weekly bulletin. Additionally, they arranged for leadership to create a 2- to 3-minute video about underage drinking and the goals of the actual event. This short video was posted on Facebook and on the Church’s website. The Elders also made live announcements to the congregation about this upcoming workshop, and they provided a luncheon prior to the actual event on October 17. The Sunday morning worship services prior to the week of this event focused on addiction and drugs in our communities, and our Ministers extended announcements and invitations to various leaders in the Snellville community to include elementary, middle, and high school educators and family members. This workshop was intended for youth, parents, community organizations, churches, and church members. We had a total of 67 people in attendance at this first workshop.

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

  • Prevention-related webinars
  • Prevention videos, such as College Drinking: Prevention Perspectives
  • StopAlcoholAbuse.gov website
  • Communities Talk website
  • Communities Talk planning guides
  • Communities Talk toolkits
  • Communities Talk social media content (e.g., Facebook, Twitter)
  • Communities Talk support staff
  • None
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Did the COVID-19 pandemic affect the planning or execution of your activities?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the Snellville Church of Christ members and possibly other community leaders and families were unable to attend this event. Thankfully, the workshop was recorded and made available on the church website for those members who were unable to attend this event.

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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
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How did you overcome these challenges?

We believe we had a very organized plan that was well supported by the Snellville Church of Christ Leadership. The Ministers did an excellent job of marketing this workshop by using social media and having physical contact with schools, the Snellville Police Department, and other community organizations. Two organizations provided substance misuse support and resources in the Snellville community. Two individuals from these organizations shared their recovery experiences and the resources that helped them with their recovery. We also has collaborators speak with local news about the possibility of taping this event; however, they were not able to do so and provided additional recommendations on how to get more involvement from their television station. We learned that there is a great need for education about drugs, underage drinking, the danger of smoking and vaping, and marijuana misuse for middle and high school students. 

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What are your next steps?

  • Host follow-up meetings or activities
  • 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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