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An Ounce of Prevention Has Never Weighed More: The Value of Addressing Youth Alcohol and Other Drug Use

Hosted by: Clallam County Juvenile and Family Services

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Please briefly describe your Communities Talk activity.

Effective prevention around alcohol and other drug use can have direct impacts on substance use by youth, adolescents, young adults, and our communities at large. Yet, science shows that substance use prevention can also have impacts elsewhere, including with student success and academic outcomes, mental health, and suicide. In this virtual town hall presentation, an Associate Professor in Psychology and Behavioral Services at the University of Washington reviewed research highlighting the incredible value of prevention, how successes in substance use prevention pay dividends elsewhere, and the important role that parents and caregivers play in supporting a prevention message.

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How does alcohol and other drug misuse affect your community?

Our Port Angeles community was awarded 18-months of funding from the Washington Health Care Authority’s Community Prevention and Wellness Initiative to re-fortify community-led efforts to prevent underage substance use and promote youth mental health. The Port Angeles Healthy Youth Coalition is currently working on analyzing local Healthy Youth Survey data and developing a community-based strategic plan. Initial data show that most students in the Port Angeles School District do not use substances, yet improvements can be made to reduce underage use of alcohol, cannabis, tobacco, and vape products. Measures from the Healthy Youth Survey show that substance use among 8th-, 10th- and 12th-grade students is frequently above statewide averages. This is influenced by a higher-than-statewide average of perceived ease of access to substances, self-reported earlier use initiation, lower perceived risk of harm for regular use, and perceived peer attitudes that are tolerant or approving of substance use.

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

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

  • None
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How did you overcome these challenges?

We did not face any other challenges.

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

  • Communities Talk planning guides
  • Communities Talk toolkits
  • The virtual activities toolkit, planning guide, and success stories helped us figure out how to host a successful event during the pandemic.
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Who did you involve in your activity planning, and who did your activity impact?

A number of Port Angeles Healthy Youth Coalition members were involved in planning, promoting, and attending the event, including representatives from various sectors such as the business community, advocacy and prevention groups, mental health, public health/health care, law enforcement/court system, parent/caregiver, schools and education, substance use disorder treatment, youth and youth-serving organizations, military/veteran, and local government. We opened the event to the entire community and promoted the event via email list servs, presentations, Facebook, Instagram, our webpage, and local radio.

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

Yes, we had to host a virtual event due to ongoing pandemic concerns and restrictions.

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