ESSEX COUNTY AREA, NJ – The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) recently released the Drug-Free Communities Support Program’s 2014 National Evaluation Report. The report shows that across the 618 Drug-Free Communities (DFC) funded by ONDCP in FY 2013, of which the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Team (ADAPT) from Essex County, New Jersey is a part, there are promising results for middle school and high school youth substance use and perception including:
- A significant decrease in past 30-day use for alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and prescription drugs among middle school and high school youth;
- An increase in the percentage of survey respondents who reported that regular use of tobacco, alcohol, or prescription drugs has moderate or great risk;
- An increase in the perception of peer disapproval among middle school students in each of the four substance areas, and for high school students in each substance except marijuana; and
- An increase in perception of parent disapproval for each of the substance areas, with the exception of marijuana among high school youth.
“We know that preventing drug use before it begins is the most cost-effective approach to reduce drug use,” said Michael Botticelli, director of National Drug Control Policy, who unveiled the findings at the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) 2015 Mid-Year Training Institute, one of the largest gatherings of youth drug use prevention advocates in the country. “By bringing together schools, businesses, law enforcement, parent groups, and other members of the community, DFC-funded community coalitions are helping to protect youth from the devastating consequences of prescription drug abuse and other substance use disorders.”
As part of the Drug-Free Communities program, ADAPT from Essex County has pioneered programs to address the prescription drug problem in our community, such as increasing the number of residents that properly monitor, secure, and dispose of their prescription medication and increasing the number of secure community-based drug disposal programs and locations.
“We are not powerless against the challenges of prescription drug use among young people here in Essex County,” said Joel Torres, ADAPT’s senior coordinator. “Research shows that prevention is a powerful tool that can counteract the spread of youth drug use in our communities, and we will continue to work together to decrease drug use among young people and change young people’s perceptions of drugs.”
The goals of the DFC program are two-fold. The first goal is to establish and strengthen collaboration among communities and the second goal is to reduce substance use among youth. DFC continues to expand its reach to 2.9 million middle school youth and 4.1-million high school youth.
The Drug-Free Communities Support Program is directed by ONDCP in partnership with HHS’s SAMHSA. The DFC Program provides grants of up to $625,000 over five years to community coalitions that facilitate youth and adult participation at the community level in local youth drug use prevention efforts. Coalitions are comprised of community leaders, parents, youth, teachers, religious and fraternal organizations, health care and business professionals, law enforcement, and media.
The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy seeks to foster healthy individuals and safe communities by effectively reducing drug use and its consequences. The National Drug Control Strategy builds on the Administration’s record of drug policy reform by outlining a series of actions that will continue to expand health interventions and “smart on crime” alternatives. The Strategy includes a series of actions currently underway to reduce the impact of the opioid epidemic in the United States.