The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Behavioral Health and Health Facilities and the Center for Health and Safety Culture of Montana State University seek to develop effective strategies to reduce underage drinking and the misuse of prescription drugs, as well as build a sustainable prevention infrastructure whereby these improvements will be supported over time.
There are many reasons to be concerned about alcohol and the misuse of prescription drugs among West Virginia’s youth. Alcohol and the misuse of prescription drugs are the leading contributing factors of deaths among 12-25 year olds in West Virginia (CDC, 2010). The consequences of underage drinking are significant, as teens “who start drinking before the age of 15 are four times more likely to meet the criteria for alcohol dependence at some point in their lives” (NIAAA, 2012, p. 3). Similar to alcohol use among youth, the misuse of prescription drugs can be significant too. Drazdowski, Jaggi, Borre, and Kliewer (2014) found nonmedical use of prescription drugs by young people increased their risk for mental health problems, other drug use, and exposure to violence.
West Virginia has initiated a multi-year Partnerships for Success project to reduce underage drinking and the misuse of prescription drugs among youth in 12 West Virginia counties. Building on the strengths and resources that exist in these counties, the project offers multiple tools provided in the form of toolkits which are intended to guide conversations about underage drinking and the misuse of prescription drugs and to promote engagement on these issues. The toolkits are designed to combine two goals:
The Community Building Campaign is the first toolkit and lays the foundation and sets the tone for the entire project. The purpose of this toolkit is to build capacity for positive community change by connecting the people of West Virginia based on their common values toward caring, health, and safety. Not only do these values have broad appeal, but acknowledging that we share them fosters a sense of community and provides a common context to begin conversations. The Community Building Campaign Toolkit is followed by a series of campaign toolkits which focus on multiple levels of the social ecology including:
The brand which identifies this project is: “It’s Who We Are. West Virginia.” By linking the brand to all aspects of the project, we will begin to join together around the desire for improved health and safety.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2010). WISQARS (Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System). Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars.
Drazdowski, T., Jaggi, L., Borre, A., & Kliwer, W. (2014). Use of prescription drugs and future delinquency among adolescent offenders. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 48(1), 28-36.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). (2012, March). Underage drinking. Retrieved from www.niaaa.nih.gov
To learn more about this project in your area, click the box with your county’s name below to view contact information for your local Partnerships for Success Grant Coordinator.
The West Virginia PFS Positive Culture Framework Project starts with the Community Building Toolkit. The purpose of the Community Building Toolkit is to build capacity for positive community change by connecting the people of West Virginia based on their common values toward caring, health, and safety. Some people in West Virginia believe that underage drinking and the misuse of prescriptions among youth are the “norms,” when in fact, they are not. It is time to reconnect with who we really are: a proud, hardworking, and resilient state.
Parents play a critical role in their child’s decision to drink alcohol or misuse prescription drugs. Engagement is key! The purpose of the parent tools is to reduce alcohol use and the misuse of prescription drugs among youth through parent communication and engagement.
While most students are making good decisions about not using alcohol and not misusing prescription drugs, the risks and negative consequences for students who do use can be devastating. The purpose of the student tools is reveal the healthy behaviors that most youth are engaging in to further reduce substance use rates.
Law enforcement play a large role in prevention and we need their help. The purpose of the law enforcement tools is to enhance consistent enforcement and advocate to reduce underage drinking and the misuse of prescription drugs among youth.
These adult tools were developed as part of the WV PFS project with the goal of empowering community members to take positive actions that help reduce underage drinking and the misuse of prescription drugs among youth.
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