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Above the Influence

Hosted by: ASAP

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Please briefly describe your Communities Talk activity.

Agency for Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) hosted a virtual roundtable discussion that focused on the effects of underage drinking on high school students. The Communities Talk activity was done with local high schools in the Oxford, Alabama, area both in-person and over Zoom to target many schools and grades. We conducted a needs assessment on the biggest issues going on with these youth and found alcohol and vaping to be the biggest youth issues in our community. We were able to open the Zoom virtual discussion to two counties, Calhoun County and Talladega County. We had seven schools in Calhoun County and two schools in Talladega County. Speakers from the community participated in the roundtable discussion. We also had the local coroner, Pat Brown, as a speaker, and Neil Fetner from the ABC Alabama Board of Corrections. Mr. Fetner controls and runs the state alcohol liquor license in Alabama. Lastly, we had members from the Anderson Fellowship House share their alcohol recovery stories, which was a great testimonial for the youth who stayed around later to ask more questions. One of the challenges we faced was that schools had their mandated testing during this time. We learned that, moving forward, we will choose a different month to do our activity because of the testing in schools, but we also want to continue the online option so more people can participate wherever they are, especially during sports season.

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How does alcohol and other drug misuse affect your community?

Event flyer

In Calhoun County, 21% of deaths that occurred in 2022 were the result of substance misuse or gun violence, according to the Alabama Epidemiological Outcomes Workgroup (AEOW) Epidemiological Profile (AL Department of Mental Health). According to our local Children’s Policy Council, the number of juvenile delinquency cases filed for drug and substance violations was 395. In the county, 51 children have been removed from their homes due to parental drug use. Calhoun County currently has 256 children in foster care and not enough available placements in the county. Substance misuse affects youth, families, and all parts of society and is manifested through underage drinking, prescription drug misuse, illegal substance manufacturing, access, and use.

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Which prevention strategy(ies), as defined by SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, best fit your Communities Talk activity?

  • Education Strategy – focuses on “two-way” communication between the facilitator and participants and aims to improve life/social skills such as decision making, refusal skills, and critical analysis.
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What goal(s) did you hope to accomplish with your Communities Talk activity?

  • Hold meetings or discussion groups on alcohol and/or other drug misuse prevention.
  • Create alcohol and/or other drug misuse prevention action groups (e.g., committees, task forces, and advisory boards).
  • Start a youth-led coalition on alcohol and/or other drug misuse prevention.
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Did you accomplish your goal(s)?


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

  • Lack of interest from the community
  • We were hoping for a larger attendance; however, our target high schools had mandatory academic testing that day.
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How did you overcome these challenges?

We knew in order to increase participation, we had to offer something that would grab their attention. So for the grade with the most participation, they received a free pizza party. This year, a senior class had the most participation and was rewarded with Papa John's pizza delivered to the school by the staff.

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What are your next steps?

Organizer presenting virtual roundtable
  • Expand our coalition with new partnerships in the community
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If you’ve conducted Communities Talk activities in prior years, how has your repeated participation contributed to progress in achieving your prevention goals?

Engaging the students with individuals who share their testimonies has been the best progress since we started conducting Communities Talk. This led to an impactful event and continues to raise awareness.

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Organizations that conduct Communities Talk activities often involve other organizations in the planning and execution of events. Please indicate which type(s) of organizations you involved in your activity planning.

  • Law enforcement
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Which of the following best describes the primary audience(s) for your Communities Talk activity?

  • Youth
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How did you reach and engage your primary audience(s) to encourage them to participate in your activity?

To reach out and engage our audience, we are lucky enough that our agency has a good relationship with our local school systems and was able to fit in a time in between their testing schedule to come in and have a discussion. We asked counselors and school administrators to spread the word to their teachers so more students would be interested. We also advertised the event through social media platforms and flyers at the schools and with local businesses.

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

  • StopAlcoholAbuse.gov What’s New email newsletter

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