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October is Substance Abuse Prevention Month!

National Substance Abuse Prevention Month – an annual October observance – highlights the vital role of substance use prevention in both individual and community health, and the opportunity to remember those who have lost their lives to substance use.

In 2015, approximately 20.8 million people aged 12 or older had a substance use disorder related to their use of alcohol or illicit drugs in the past year, including 15.7 million people who had an alcohol use disorder and 7.7 million people who had an illicit drug use disorder.

These findings reinforce the importance of community-based substance use prevention efforts, making this year’s Substance Abuse Prevention Month theme, “Unleashing the Collective Power of Communities,” even more timely. This theme calls on parents, youth, communities, and schools to help foster positive and healthy environments.

As community-based organizations and institutions of higher education, you may want to consider hosting a Town Hall Meeting this month to discuss substance use issues in your community. SAMHSA offers a comprehensive Planning Guide for hosting a Town Hall Meeting, including tips about when to hold your event to maximize impact and tools to help you organize essential details.

For more information, visit Communities Talk: Town Hall Meetings to Prevent Underage Drinking.

Help Parents Prevent Underage and Binge Drinking Among their College-Aged Children

As fall begins and college administrators prepare for Parents Weekend, Homecoming, and/or the big game, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides resources for parents and caregivers of college students to help prevent alcohol use among young adults.

The Sound of Your Voice is a short animated video encouraging parents and caregivers to talk with their college-aged students about the potential consequences of underage alcohol use.

Talking With Your College-Bound Young Adult About Alcohol is a companion guide to the video emphasizing the continuing influence that parents and caregivers have over alcohol use decisions by their older children. This short guide also offers tips for when and how to have the conversation about this important topic.

In 2015, 40.9 percent of young adults, ages 18 to 20, had consumed alcohol during the past month, and more than 27.8 percent engaged in binge drinking. Those who use alcohol can experience direct and indirect effects on their social relationships and health; and those who abuse alcohol can experience negative consequences that include injury to self and others and even death.

As major family events take place this fall on campuses across the country, college administrators are encouraged to share these messages and resources with the parents of their students. The video and guide are available for free in the SAMHSA store.

Enter the Red Ribbon Week Campus Video PSA Contest by October 21 for a Chance to Win $1,000

As part of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Red Ribbon Week campaign, the DEA and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration are co-sponsoring a Campus Video PSA Contest for colleges and universities to promote the importance of preventing illicit drug use and legal drug misuse among college students. Eligible entrants can create and submit a 30- to 60-second video PSA showcasing the underlying message behind Red Ribbon Week – a commitment to a healthy, drug-free lifestyle, especially among college students.

The contest is an opportunity for colleges and universities to demonstrate how students are taking action to prevent drug abuse, including alcohol, on their campus, and to inspire and challenge others to do the same. Find out more and submit your video at www.redribboncampusvideo.com.