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YSUP! Rowan receives $625,000 Drug-Free Communities grant

Staff report

SALISBURY — The newly formed YSUP! Rowan, which stands for Youth Substance Use Prevention Rowan, received word Wednesday that it has received a $625,000 grant from the drug policy office of the White House.

It was one of 719 Drug-Free Communities grants awarded totaling $89 million and representing the largest number of DFC grantees in a single year since the program’s founding.

The grants provide funding to local community coalitions, such as YSUP! Rowan, to prevent youth substance use, including prescription drugs, marijuana, tobacco and alcohol. The $625,000, five-year grant was the maximum grant awarded.

“Our goal is to make Rowan County a safe and drug-free place for our youth,” said Karen South Jones, coalition coordinator and executive director of Rowan County Youth Services Bureau.

“Prevention is a powerful tool to counteract drug use in our community, and we will use this funding to help young people in our community make healthy choices about substance use,” Jones said.

YSUP! Rowan is a coalition whose mission is to engage the community to create conditions that will lead to the prevention and reduction of substance use by young people so they may build healthy, safe and successful lives, Jones said.

The coalition was founded in the fall of 2015. Its members represent local government, local government agencies, law enforcement, juvenile justice, mental health providers, the school system, business community, the medical community, parents and young people.

“The award of this DFC grant is the result of lots of hard work by some very dedicated people,” Jones said.

Richard Baum, acting director of National Drug Control Policy, announced the grants.

“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,” Baum said. “Our local DFC coalitions are a key part of this effort because they are bringing together parents groups, schools, health care professionals, law enforcement, businesses and others to prevent drug use and improve the health of the community.”

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is responsible for the day-to-day management of the DFC program.

“SAMHSA looks forward to working with its community partners in implementing evidence-based practices to impact the community and help youth,” said Elinore McCance-Katz, assistant secretary for mental health and substance use.

Prescription drug abuse prevention is one of the core measures of effectiveness for local DFC coalitions, and coalitions nationwide have led innovative opioid prevention initiatives.

DFC’s 2016 National Evaluation End-of-Year Report found that at least 97 percent of middle school and 93 percent of high school youths report they have not illicitly used prescription drugs in the past 30 days in DFC communities.

Additionally, perception of risk of illicit prescription drug use was generally high (80-84 percent). The report also found that perceived risk of illicit use of prescription drugs was similar to perceived risk of tobacco use (80-83 percent), and was higher than for both alcohol (69-73 percent) and marijuana use (53-73 percent).

Finally, the report detailed that peer disapproval of illicit prescription drug use increased significantly for both age groups within all DFC coalitions.

The Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program, created by the Drug-Free Communities Act of 1997, is the nation’s leading effort to mobilize communities to prevent youth substance use.

Directed by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, in partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the DFC program provides grants to community coalitions to strengthen the infrastructure among local partners to create and sustain a reduction in local youth substance use.

According to 2016 data, an estimated 3,200 young people per day between the ages of 12 and 17 used drugs for the first time in the preceding year. Research also indicates high school seniors are more likely to smoke marijuana than cigarettes.

Eighty-eight percent of DFC coalitions indicate they focus on heroin, prescription drugs or both, which is reflective of the ongoing national opioid crisis. Furthermore, 16 percent of high school seniors in 2016 reported binge drinking (five or more drinks in a row) in the past two weeks.

 

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