By Barbara Green, PhD
Tuesday, September 23rd marked the 4th annual South Shore FACTS: Families, Adolescents, Communities Together against Substances conference. The theme this year was “Creating Positive Community Outcomes.”
Nearly 200 people attended and were treated to a day full of wisdom shared by multi- disciplinary professionals and panelists, personal stories, and news of ongoing community coalition efforts.
In the afternoon communities gathered and spent time working on goal setting and developing plans for the coming year. By the end of the day, everyone in attendance left with increased knowledge and dedication to fight to help save lives.
Joanne Peterson, founder of Learn to Cope; received the 2014 SS FACTS Summit Award for her determined 10 years of work building a statewide support network for loved ones dealing with opiate addiction. She spoke eloquently on the power of grassroots efforts and belief.
Youth Health Connection (YHC) serves as the regional facilitator for towns to develop individual coalitions with the goal that they develop sustainable, environmentally based strategies and programs to tackle the vexing issue of underage substance use. It is our belief that by coming together we can mutually motivate and assist communities to build strong, broad based coalitions including parents, teens, schools, law enforcement, business, government, medical and mental health, and clergy.
The data speaks loudly: Approximately 8 million adults have co-occurring substance use and mental health issues. Tragically only 6.9 % receive treatment for both conditions. The Health and Risk Behaviors survey for 2013 paints a picture that tells us that 13% of high school students report having their first alcohol drink before age 13. Nearly one fifth reported binge drinking. The research informs us that the earlier the onset of first use the greater the likelihood of dependence or abuse in early adulthood. We know that the adolescent brain is extremely vulnerable to the impact of drugs and alcohol so it is imperative to stop destructive behavior as soon as possible.
Education, prevention and early intervention work can save lives. We are working to create “Cultural Sea Change” that understands and embraces the science, incorporates it into programs and drives the change forward.
For more information contact Kim Noble at email@example.com
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