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Underage Drinking in Cabarrus County Mental Health Task Force

Hosted by: Amazing Grace Advocacy

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Please briefly describe your Communities Talk activity.

Amazing Grace Advocacy collaborated with the Cabarrus County Mental Health Task Force to bring focus and discussion to underage drinking. This collaboration was part of the substance use and misuse prevention initiative that is currently active in the county.

The focus on the opioid epidemic has overshadowed the need to address underage drinking as a gateway to misuse of other substances. Our goal with this discussion was to bring underage drinking into the conversation and develop stronger programs to address and treat alcohol misuse. One gap that we identified during our discussion was that substance use treatment providers often downplay alcohol use in teens as a “normal” phase and a “lesser harm.” We aim to change that assumption and collaborate with providers who will address underage drinking as a serious disorder, including the entire family and natural supports of the teen in treatment and education. Our next step is to build education and programs for providers, parents, and youth. And our case management program assists parents in getting connected to the appropriate providers who use a holistic model of natural supports inclusion and trauma-informed practice.

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How does alcohol and other drug misuse affect your community?

Our Mental Health Task Force has a sub-group for trauma, and we are focusing on substance misuse and underage drinking with the connection to childhood trauma and complex trauma.

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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
  • Improve policy/legislation (e.g., reducing alcohol advertising to which youth are exposed; instituting, promoting, or increasing alcohol compliance checks; improving
  • Awareness and enforcement of social host laws) to support prevention of underage drinking
  • Address trauma in our youth population as a prevention tactic for underage drinking
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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
  • Adapting to conducting a virtual activity
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How did you overcome these challenges?

We overcame challenges by shifting into a virtual platform, and we were able to continue without taking away from the goal of the project.

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What are your next steps?

  • Host follow-up meetings or activities
  • Create new action groups to tackle specific issues raised during our Communities Talk activity
  • Expand our coalition with new partnerships in the community
  • Support new prevention policies, legislation, or social ordinances
  • 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 planning guides
  • Communities Talk toolkits
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Who did you involve in your activity planning, and who did your activity impact?

We involved school leaders, county government, law enforcement, the judicial system, and parents with children who have experienced substance or alcohol misuse.

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

Yes, we were not able to meet in-person or hold an in-person event for youth.

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