Substance Abuse Prevention
Substance Abuse Prevention
Charlestown Substance Abuse Coalition (CSAC)
Revere CARES’ Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs (ATOD) Initiative Eight million adolescents aged 12 to 17 drank alcohol in the past year, nearly 5 million used an illicit drug, and nearly 4 million smoked cigarettes nationwide. Young people who continuously abuse substances can experience problems related to academics, health, relationships, and the law. Substance abuse also impacts family members, the community, and society as a whole.
While substance abuse is a problem to varying degrees in every community, community health assessments in Revere and Charlestown identified substance abuse as the communities’ leading health issue - specifically, underage alcohol use in Revere and opiate use in Charlestown. Community-wide, comprehensive responses to substance use have since been developed. This comprehensive approach to reducing substance abuse supports individuals in making healthy choices while also recognizing how the environment and social norms influence individual behavior. Both communities have formed strong coalitions combining individual, organizational, community, and public policy efforts to reduce substance abuse.
This year, Revere CARES won the Coalition of the Year award from the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America for achieving positive substance abuse-related outcomes. In addition to several substance use indicators decreasing among high school youth, as measured by the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, high school students reported reduced ease in obtaining alcohol (83% to 69%) and marijuana (83% to 67%) between 2001 and 2009. Revere CARES has achieved a key coalition goal of successfully changing community norms related to:
• Parents not allowing youth to drink at home;
• Retailers not selling to underage customers; and
• Police and schools’ enforcing consequences.
Charlestown has also seen success in achieving their goals. Since the Charlestown Substance Abuse Coalition formed in 2004 to respond to the heroin and other opioid epidemic, Emergency Medical Services responses for opiate overdoses decreased 17.7% from 2003 to 2006, and drug related deaths decreased 41% between 2003 and 2005. In addition to addressing the immediate opioid problem, Charlestown is investing in prevention for youth by implementing science-based curriculum in elementary and middle schools. Preliminary evaluation results indicate that youth are more likely to think through the possible consequences before making a decision about substance use and more likely to say no if someone offers them tobacco, alcohol, or another drug.