The Lakewood community has been selected to receive funding to reduce alcohol and other drug use among youth and create a healthier and safer community environment. This support includes funding for training, technical assistance, and community and school-based prevention services.
Lakewood is one of fifty-two (52) communities statewide participating in a Prevention Redesign Initiative (PRI), funded by the state Department of Social and Health Services’ Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery (DBHR). PRI supports new or existing coalitions in partnering with parents, youth, educators, health professionals, law enforcement, faith leaders, and local government. Coalitions will identify priority prevention needs, plan and implement evidence-based strategies, leverage local resources and evaluate the impact of selected programs.
“Our goal in redesigning and targeting our state prevention services is to leverage enough resources in high-need communities to achieve greater reductions in substance abuse and the harm it causes,” said Chris Imhoff, Director of DBHR. “Community leaders are prepared to use these resources to help young people make healthy choices and succeed,” added Imhoff.
PRI’s primary goals are to reduce underage drinking among 8th and 10th graders, improve academic performance, and reduce juvenile crime. Alcohol abuse injures and kills more young people than all other drugs combined. The 2012 Washington State Healthy Youth Survey found that prevention efforts are working to reduce teen drinking, however, more than 115,000 youth surveyed said they drank in past 30 days.
Because the teen brain is still developing, alcohol use during this time can permanently damage learning and memory, and impairs judgment and impulse control. This puts teens at greater risk for serious injuries and death.
“A number of factors were considered in selecting Lakewood to be part of the PRI”, said Doug Porter, Pierce County Coordinator for Chemical Dependency. “These included the percentage of families receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the number of alcohol and drug related deaths, and the high risk of academic failure. Lakewood demonstrates successes by having strong community partnerships and a committed school district. These factors show that Lakewood is ready to benefit from participating in the PRI.”
Local sector representatives are developing a community coalition focused on substance abuse prevention and began planning on July 1, 2013. The Coalition will seek to increase academic achievement, help youth resist using alcohol and drugs which will result in brighter futures for the youth in Lakewood. Community members are encouraged to join the coalition to help plan and support programs.
State and county data from the Washington State Healthy Youth Survey is available at www.AskHYS.net. Information and tips for parents for preventing underage drinking can be found at www.StartTalkingNow.org.
For information about joining the coalition efforts, contact Andi Sledge at Pierce County Community Connections at 253-798-3799 or firstname.lastname@example.org.