CSAC Award

The Charlestown Coalition

The Charlestown Coalition, formerly the Charlestown Substance Abuse Coalition (CSAC), works to reduce substance use disorders by changing community norms and attitudes, increasing the presence of law enforcement, advocating for additional treatment resources and engaging in primary prevention within public schools.


In 2002, the rates of substance abuse-related hospitalizations and drug-related deaths among residents were 50% higher in Charlestown than in Boston overall. In 2004, the majority (70%) of Charlestown admissions to publicly-funded treatment facilities were for heroin and other opioids, compared to 50% for Boston. To address these challenges, a community coalition was formed to reduce substance misuse by utilizing existing community resources, organizing programs to respond to identified needs, and harnessing the community’s energy and commitment to create a safe, healthy environment in Charlestown.

The Charlestown Substance Abuse Coalition works to increase access to and resources for successful treatment and recovery from substance use disorders (SUDS). The Coalition also strengthens protective factors and decreases risk factors to prevent substance use and misuse for youth, young adults and families, through education, prevention, and intervention strategies.  The coalition has nearly 50 active members representing 12 community sectors.

About this Program

CSAC’s efforts have contributed to the following outcomes:

  • Emergency Medical Service responses for heroin overdoses decreased 62% from 2003 to 2010.  
  • Hospital discharges from opioid overdoses decreased by 44% between 2004 and 2009.
  • Between calendar years 2003 and 2008, Charlestown’s drug-related deaths decreased 78%.

2015 Outcomes

  • The Turn It Around youth group promoted the social marketing campaign and raised awareness of substance use through community events. The youth got the word out about the annual Prescription Take Back Day where 1033 prescriptions were collected.
  • The Charlestown Navigator worked with 96 people in recovery or struggling with addiction to connect them with needed resources.
  • The Charlestown Substance Abuse Coalition expanded its prevention curriculum into Charlestown High School, the Boys& Girls Clubs, and the Stay‐in‐Shape afterschool program, reaching 400 students.
  • Outreach efforts made to the faith-based community, Edwards Middle School, BGCB, 76 Monument St, and housing developments to expand community attendance at steering committee and task force meetings. CSAC created the Charlestown Trauma working group.
  • CSAC partnered with Boston Public Health Commission to host regular community NARCAN trainings every 90 days. 447 people were trained in NARCAN and overdose awareness and prevention.


  • Mass General's Response to the Opioid Epidemic - 6/16/2015, Mass General

    Mass General Hospital is on the front lines of the opioid epidemic. The MGH Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) program goal is to have substance use disorders addressed along all levels of health impact; from primary community-based prevention to early intervention and treatment to chronic disease management.

  • Turn It Around Youth Group organizes drive to collect hats and gloves - 2/23/2015, Mass General

    The effects of the closing of the Long Island shelter are being felt all over the city, so it’s no surprise that when the Turn It Around Youth Group heard about the displacement of homeless men and women, the young people knew they had to act.

  • Charlestown Community Health Assessment Online Survey now available - 2/17/2015, Mass General

    Charlestown residents will have their say about the community’s overall health by completing a Quality of Life survey beginning today. The survey can be taken online or in paper form.

  • How can Charlestown become a healthier place? - 11/18/2011, Mass General

    There will be a community meeting on Dec. 1, where organizers hope to hear answers to that question. The meeting is part of a community health assessment, sponsored by the MGH Center for Community Health Improvement and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, and coordinated, in part, by the Charlestown Substance Abuse Coalition.


Contact Us

Sarah Coughlin

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