If you read this column, you know we attended a national convention in Orlando that brought together 1800 people working to prevent underage drug and alcohol use. It was a wonderful meeting, the best I’ve attended. I immersed myself in best practices, theories of prevention, ways to track data and share credit, and various ways to build capacity (make the most of the resources needed to accomplish our goals) and build sustainability in case we’re not renewed after our grant ends in 2015. If you don’t know about Drug Free Communities grants, each grantee does a local assessment of conditions, and then selects evidence-based programs to address their issues. Though what’s going on in Crescenta Valley might not mirror urban cities or rural communities, there are commonalities.
The conversations and insights are worth sharing, so here are a few tidbits to give you an idea of my week:
1) Syracuse, New York leads the nation in babies born addicted to opioids.
2) Grand Rapids, Michigan is the brewery capital of America.
3) Heroin replaced suicide as the answer to my question, “What problem is challenging your community?”
4) Because there is a link between mental health and substance abuse disorders, we must decrease negative attitudes about being treated for mental health illnesses. Preschoolers are the new target group for detecting mental health issues and three quarters of all mental health disorders show before age 25.
5) Underage drinking remains a top concern among people working in prevention.
6) E-cigarettes and hookahs are problematic nationwide.
7) The perception of harm associated with marijuana use went from 54.6% in 2007 to just 43.6% in 2012. Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is leading a national effort to stop adult recreational use of marijuana. If anyone wants to get involved with SAM locally, I’ll send you information about a meeting on the morning of Aug. 11 in Commerce.
8) Forty thousand families lose someone to drug problems every year.
9) The misuse of pain medicine continues to rise. In 2011, more than 4500 people abused prescription drugs daily. Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it is safe!
10) More than one third of people who commit suicide have a blood alcohol level over the legal limit.
11) Synthetics are abused by young people. Julia Rabago told me K2 (synthetic marijuana) was often mentioned among delegates at Youth Leadership meetings.
12) Retired Army Major General Arthur Dean, chairman and CEO of CADCA (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America), was a Ranger!
13) If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
Suzy Jacobs is the executive director of the CV Alliance located at
3131 Foothill Blvd. Suite D
La Crescenta, CA 91214
(818) 646-7867 http://cv-alliance.org/