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Innovations in Youth Drug Prevention

Organized by the Government of the United States of America, the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, Lions Club, the Australian Drug Foundation and the New Zealand Drug Foundation.

Richard Baum

Michael Botticelli, Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, USA
Why invest in prevention? Youth have the fundamental right to grow up in safe and healthy communities. There is a significant return on investment with prevention efforts. Every dollar spent on prevention saves 18 dollars down the line in other drug policy costs. Prevention has to be locally focused because substance use issues differ in different communities, and it requires a coalition of all significant stakeholders to be successful (coaches, schools, etc.)
Also need to include the youth voice to ensure we are implementing good prevention programs. The younger people start using substances, the more likely they are to have a significant chance of developing a drug use disorder. Clear impacts of early substance use as it related to academic performance, violence, transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancy, etc. Need to prevent marijuana use among youth as this poses serious challenges in the US. People are less likely to use substances if they perceive them as risky (i.e. there is an inverse relationship between risk and use). The perceived risk of marijuana use has declined significantly in the US, and we therefore expect use to go up in subsequent years. This can be attributed to legalization efforts in the US. Risk and protective factors are important from a prevention standpoint. Goal of prevention is to reduce risk factors and elevate protective factors. Drug-Free Communities Support Programs mobilize community efforts that focus on local drug problems in an effort to reduce drug use.

Art Dean, Community Anti-Drug Coalition (CADCA)
CADCA goes into a community to build capacity in order to help them solve their own problems. Coalition with all stakeholders. Mobilize diverse sectors, work around local data, and implement comprehensive strategies. Five essential products: community assessment, logic model, strategic and action plan, evaluation plan, and sustainability plan. Seen reduction in substance abuse rates in as early as 6 months, and significant reduction in 12 months, if they are trained properly and implement the products properly. Individually-focused ways to achieve impact include providing information, building skills, and providing social support. Also need to focus on the environment by reducing barriers and enhancing access, changing consequences and incentives, altering the physical design of the environment, and changing policy and rules. US invested 1.25 billion since 1998. More than 2,000 coalitions since it began. Currently 680 grantees. CADCA’s framework is published. Working internationally since 2005.

Catherine Milburn, New Zealand Drug Foundation
Innovative online cannabis resource called PotHelp. New Zealand has some of the highest drug use rates in the developed world. New Zealand is ranked third in the world in cannabis use. Easy to grow cannabis in New Zealand. Almost half of New Zealanders have used cannabis in the past year, mostly male, married, and young. Cannabis is the drug people most commonly seek help for. When they don’t access help, it is because they didn’t know how, they were scared, they didn’t want to be bothered, they were embarrassed, they didn’t want to make a fuss, they thought the problem would go away, etc. Perceived risk of cannabis use is very low in New Zealand. This mentality causes great harm. Preventative approaches and focusing on needs of students with high levels of concern about their use are important. PotHelp is an e-therapy tool supporting people with self-diagnosed cannabis issues or dependence. Help people access support when they want it. Helps them cut back or quit. Hosts compelling and honest video stories about people’s own cannabis use and journeys of change. These words are what people listen to. 45 videos are on the website, many from young people, and also people who have been affected by cannabis use. Reaching people who would not go down traditional paths to deal with their cannabis use. Noticed in analytics that people are increasingly accessing support online, including on their mobile phones and tablets. Please visit www.pothelp.org.nz.

Maree Sidey, Good Sports Australian Drug Foundation
Close link between young people taking alcohol and taking illicit drugs. Sport clubs are prominent throughout the country and contribute significantly to social capital. Sport clubs are the local place in Australia where people go and socialize, and they serve food and drink most nights of the week. Alcohol is served. Downside to this cultural institution is that there is a close link between alcohol and sport in Australia. Many say alcohol is our second national pastime. If you are regularly participating in community sport, you are nine times more likely to be drinking at “at risk” levels. Good Sports is a capacity building intervention that facilitates sport club adoption of progressively higher standards of alcohol management practices. Program is growing rapidly. Projected to reach 50% of people who regularly play sports by 2015. 30% relative reduction in alcohol consumption at the sport clubs, and 16% relative reduction in alcohol dependence overall. Alcohol and sport are linked in many countries.

Matthew Kiefer, Lions Clubs International 

Build academic and social competence, which positively impacts prevention. Address prevention in a comprehensive and primary manner. Curriculum for prevention (which is the same at every grade level, but builds upon itself) includes positive learning community, personal development, social development, health and prevention, leadership and service, and reflection and closure. The program must be adapted for local culture and context, including alignment with national programs or initiatives. Results from around the world have been promising.

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