Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Best Way to Predict the Future is to Create it.

What a great pleasure it was to see so many Georgetown parents at the GMHS Open Houses stop by at our GeorgetownCARES table to look over our materials on substance abuse prevention!

Thank you very much to those of you who filled out the parental interest survey, you gave us some great input and topic ideas for future workshops!

In speaking with those I could, I was struck by how many showed great understanding of that fact that any child can be at risk, but that a community of caring parents and professionals working together can make a difference, can help keep our kids safe and supported.

What are some of the best ways to protect our children against substance abuse?

The good news is that there are several different community prevention approaches that have already been shown to work very well, among them 1) Building Youth Assets (the Search Institute), 2) Communities That Care (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration--SAMHSA), 3) Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), and 4) The Call to Action (Centers for Disease Control/Surgeon General).

As a community coalition, our goal is to come together to consider how to implement any or all of them. Once we have enough measurable evidence of success and member participation, GeorgetownCARES could someday apply for a (federal) Drug Free Communities Grant. This grant and others like it are generally aimed at enabling a community to use strategies that will make progress on the four core measures, which are:
1) (raise) average age of first use,
2) (lower) past 30 day use,
3) (increase) perception of risk,
4) (increase) perception of parental disapproval.

One approach that has just (again) been proven to be extremely effective is The Communities That Cares (CTC) Program, a risk and protective factor-based program. Results of a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) study were published in the 9/7/2009 issue of Pediatrics and Adolescent Magazine.

“By the eighth grade, students in the CTC communities were 32% less likely to begin using alcohol, 33% less likely to begin smoking, and 33% less likely to begin using smokeless tobacco than their peers in the control communities. Students from the CTC communities were also 25% less likely to initiate delinquent behavior, itself a risk factor for future substance use and an important target for prevention.”

The National Institutes of Health’s article, entitled, Innovative Community-Based Prevention System Reduces Risky Behavior in 10-14 Year Olds, from which the above paragraph is quoted, can be found at

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