Revere CARES’ Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs (ATOD) Initiative
Revere CARES’ Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs (ATOD) Initiative works to strengthen policies to limit access to ATOD and enforce consequences, change social norms, and increase alternative activities for youth in the community.
Since 1997, the Revere CARES Coalition has taken a comprehensive approach to reducing youth substance use. Due to concerning trends of fatal and non-fatal opioid overdoses among adults in the community, Revere CARES’ ATOD initiative now includes opioid overdose prevention. Revere received a $300,000, three-year regional Mass Opioid Abuse and Prevention Collaborative grant from Mass DPH for the Winnisimmet Regional Opioid Collaborative (WROC), a regional partnership of four communities-- Chelsea, Revere, Saugus, and Winthrop-- who are working together to reduce their rates of opioid addiction and overdose.
Revere CARES’ substance abuse prevention efforts engage the community in a variety of ways. These strategies can be categorized into four areas of activities: policy development and enforcement, educational opportunities, community collaboration, and access to services. Examples of these strategies include (but are not limited to) the following:
Gateway Drug Initiative Activities
- Policy: Strengthen policies to limit access to ATOD and enforce consequences. These efforts have included advocacy at licensing commission hearings, compliance checks, and support for the rollback of bar closing hours in Revere.
- Education: Change in social norms. In collaboration with Revere Public Schools, the Revere Police Department, and several other local groups, Revere CARES launched the ‘Power of Know’ campaign to increase community awareness about the risk, harm and penalties associated with ATOD use.
- Collaboration: Provide educational opportunities for parents and develop a parent network. Through the STOP Act Grant, Revere CARES has conducted parent coffee sessions to provide parents with opportunities to connect with each other and to learn about how substance use affects youth brain development.
- Services: Increase alternative activities for youth. Since 2000, Revere CARES has collaborated with the City of Revere and local after school providers to obtain funding for youth programming that has now become institutionalized throughout the community.
Opioid Overdose Prevention Activities
- Policy: Advocate for Good Samaritan Bill and Narcan First Responder Pilot. The Revere CARES Opiates Task Force actively advocated for initiatives that decrease the chances of fatal opiod overdoses in the community, including the Good Samaritan Bill. Additionally, Revere CARES supported the First Responder Narcan pilot program at the Revere Fire Department, which reversed 12 opioid overdoses in its first year, giving individuals struggling with addiction an opportunity to obtain treatment.
- Education: Implement opioid overdose prevention trainings and outreach to active users and ‘bystanders’ (i.e., family/friends of active users). Through the MassCALL 2 Grant, Revere CARES has supported the City of Revere in providing trainings that inform community members about the risks associated with opioid use, how to decrease the risks of overdose, how to recognize the signs of an overdose, and how to respond in the event of an overdose.
- Collaboration: Support the Revere Police and Health Departments in establishing a medication disposal program. With the approval of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, a drop-box has been installed at the Revere Police Department so that community members can anonymously dispose of their medications to prevent youth from accessing dangerous substances and to protect the environment from improper disposal.
- Services: Develop a Drop-In Center in the community. Under the advisement of the Revere CARES Opiates Task Force, the City of Revere established a program at North Suffolk Mental Health that engages active users and their bystanders. Community members—regardless of insurance status—are invited to ‘drop-in’ during operating hours to access resources and learn more about possible treatment options.
Revere CARES has achieved notable outcomes, including increases in the age of onset of tobacco, alcohol and marijuana use among middle and high school students, declines in binge drinking between 1999 and 2009 among high school students(39% decrease) and student reports of ever having been drunk in the same period (23% decrease). Middle school student reports of ever having drunk alcohol declined 22% during the same time period.
- The rates of current drinking (at least once in past 30 days) among high school students have declined both in Revere and at the State level. In 2013, 37% of high school students reported drinking alcohol in the past 30 days (State rate: 36%). Revere has declined significantly from when the Coalition’s work began in 1999 (59%) to 2013 (37%). (This decline is statistically significant according to a linear trend analysis using logistic regression model controlling for sex, race/ethnicity and age, p<0.05).
- The percent of high school youth who reported binge drinking (5 or more drinks at least once in the past 30 days) decreased from 41% in 1999 to 20% in 2013, a 51% decrease. (This decline is statistically significant according to a linear trend analysis using logistic regression model controlling for sex, race/ethnicity and age, p<0.05).
- We are beginning to see changes in the middle school population. The percent of middle school youth who reported current drinking (at least once in past 30 days) has declined from 23% in 2009 to 10% in 2013.
- 40 students were members of the three leadership clubs at Revere High School.
- Revere CARES staff invited graduating 8th students from all 2 middle schools to write on a post it note how they were going to stay Above the Influence during the summer; 67 students participated and received an Above the Influence t-shirt.
- More than 300 high school students participated in the Above the Influence wheel activity which provided ATOD education and challenged youth to re-think the myths around substance use.
- The Above the Influence campaign was reenergized during the third annual Community Walk to Recovery on September 21, 2014. More than 350 students attended to demonstrate their desire o be Above the Influence of drugs and support community members in recovery. All students received an Above the Influence t-shirt, and many were accompanied by family members.
- Combined with North Suffolk Mental Health Association’s in-kind contribution of space, a new Drop-In Center is open every Tuesday night to better support families of opioid users.
- 80 pounds of medicine were collected during the Medicine Take Back Event in April 2014, We successfully collaborated with the Revere Shines committee, and the Mayor actively promoted the importance of proper medicine disposal. This environmental strategy removed meds in homes. Through event advertising, we educated the community about prescription drug abuse.
- The City of Revere received the Massachusetts Opioid Abuse Prevention Collaborative grant in April 2014. Revere CARES and the Center for Community Health Improvement led the assessment and planning process which included community mobilization and capacity-building activities. Revere was looked to as a leader amongst the 15 communities/clusters awarded this Massachusetts Department of Public Health grant.
Bringing more than 20 years of experience to the role, Sylvia Chiang, MD, MPH, a longtime advocate of clinical and community health, will become the new Revere CARES Coalition Director.
Phone: 781 485-6132