Community-wide initiatives that combat substance abuse among the youth are proving they are effective in controlling the problem. National drug prevention expert Kevin P. Conway, who also heads the prevention research for the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), said that having a community forum is a very good start in solving substance abuse problems among kids in their area.
Conway continued that the government’s “Communities That Care” program has played a significant role in reducing alcohol and tobacco use as well as controlling delinquent behaviors, like binge drinking, of middle school students. The program was formulated to focus on prevention systems in the community to address the growing problem of substance abuse.
For Conway, community forums help identify the problems and the participants get to share ideas and opinions on how to resolve the issues. Everyone gets involved, from parents, to school authorities, to concerned citizens, and even students’ peers in solving the problems. “And then you build infrastructure around those problem. Communities That Care’s operating model resonates very well with (Newburyport). There’s a plan to follow. It’s not like it is abstract. … It’s an investment in the community.”
The expert adds that parents and children should know that there isn’t an easy way to fix substance abuse problems and that prevention is still the best way to put everything back on the right path before it gets too late.
To put things in order, Conway advises communities to adopt a systematic approach and solicit everyone’s help. “If this were an outbreak of an infectious disease, it wouldn’t be just, ‘What can parents do?’ It would be, ‘Who do we have to involve at different levels to fix this problem?’