Today, Richard Baum, Acting Director of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), announced 719 Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program grants totaling $89 million. This represents the largest-ever number of DFC grantees in a single year since the program’s founding. The grants will provide local community coalitions funding to prevent youth substance use, including prescription drugs, marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol.
Western Youth Network and Watauga Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition from Watauga County, NC have been awarded a continuation grant of $125,000 per year for the next five years through DFC to involve and engage the local community to prevent substance use among youth. After experiencing positive outcomes related to youth substance use during the first five years of DFC funding, the continuation grant will support the work of Watauga Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition and future sustainability efforts.
“We’re losing more than 60,000 people per year to drug overdose, but if we can stop young people from starting to use drugs in the first place, we can save lives,” said Richard Baum, Acting Director of National Drug Control Policy. “Our local DFC coalitions are a key part of this effort because they are bringing together parents groups, schools, healthcare professionals, law enforcement, businesses, and others to prevent drug use and improve the health of the community.”
“Our goal is to make Watauga County a safe and drug-free place for our youth,” said Tommy Boyd, Prevention Facilitator at Western Youth Network. “Prevention is a powerful tool to counteract drug use in our community, and we will use this funding to help youth in Watauga County make healthy choices about substance use.”
Recognizing that local problems need local solutions, DFC-funded coalitions engage multiple sectors of the community and employ a variety of environmental strategies to address local drug problems. Coalitions are comprised of community leaders, parents, youth, teachers, religious and fraternal organizations, healthcare and business professionals, law enforcement, and media. By involving the community in a solution-oriented approach, DFC also helps those youth at risk for substance use recognize that the majority of our nation’s youth choose not to use drugs.
Since the inception of the Watauga Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition in 2009, Watauga County has seen dramatic decreases in youth substance use. Since 2009, there has been a 48.8% decrease in amount of reported past 30 day alcohol use among Watauga High School students (as of 2016). Additionally, there has been a 37.3% decrease in past 30 day use of marijuana among these same students. Even when compared to state and national data, Watauga County’s rates of usage have declined more rapidly. Notably, state and national data demonstrates that in recent years, marijuana use among high school students has increased. Fortunately, in Watauga County this number continues to decline. We believe that the collaborative efforts of WSAP stakeholders are integral to these positive trends.
Western Youth Network | westernyouthnetwork.org
Watauga Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition | wsap.org