Prevention Summit: holistic prevention saves money

Every year, the Washington State Prevention Summit provides youth and adults from around the state with resources and information about substance abuse and violence prevention.  Handouts from some of the 2011 presentations are now available online.  

From my perspective, a common theme among many of the speakers was the importance of prevention activities that address the whole person and the whole community.  For example: 
  • During his presentation, Anthony Biglan discussed different strategies for developing nurturing communities including nurturing schools and families.
  • Heather Larkin discussed a whole person approach to addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES).
  • Harold Holder described his research around implementing environmental prevention strategies as part of a comprehensive, community-wide approach. 
  • Children's own Leslie Walker talked about creating health equity by reducing the fragmentation of services and considering the family, social, and community issues of each teenager needing help.
 Another theme that emerged during the Summit was that, in the long run, prevention saves money.  This is an especially important message during these difficult economic times.  Stephanie Lee from the Washington State Institute for Public Policy provided specific examples during her presentation.  One of the prevention programs she highlighted is Life Skills Training, the prevention curriculum offered at Eckstein Middle School.  Here is the slide from her presentation:


I-1183, liquor in our grocery stores and underage drinking

Don't know what to think about Initiative 1183

Before I get into all of the studies that show a correlation between alcohol availability and underage drinking, just imagine what our community will look like if stores that are 10,000 square feet or larger can sell hard alcohol.  Imagine the large QFC, Safeway, Bartell Drug and Rite Aid stores in our community (most of them) with shelves of hard alcohol.  In several stores, I already feel bombarded with wine displays.  When we go shopping with our kids, do we want to see vodka and rum displays throughout some stores?  Is that what we want in our community?

Now on to the research.  When it comes to underage drinking, we know that:

-- a growing number of youth who drink prefer liquor to other forms of alcohol. According to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “distilled spirits” are the #1 choice among 12th grade girls who drink and the #2 choice among 12th grade boys who drink.

-- when it comes to minors accessing alcohol, Washington State liquor stores have a 94% no-sale-to-minors compliance rate, the nation’s highest. Private sector compliance rates range from 76% - 84%.

-- there is a correlation between alcohol outlet density (the number of places where people can buy alcohol) and youth alcohol consumption.  One of the studies cited in the ADAI fact sheet regarding last year's privatization initiatives found that, "more comprehensive and stringent alcohol control policies, particularly those affecting availability and marketing, are associated with lower prevalence/frequency of adolescent consumption and age of first use."

More information about privatizing/deregulating the sale of alcohol and public health and safety can be viewed on the WASAVP website, the Marin Institute website and the Campaign for a Healthy Alcohol Marketplace website.

More on how underage drinkers access alcohol

In July, I posted data about how underage drinkers in our community get alcohol.  The top two ways are "got it from friends" and "got it at a party".  While the Prevention WINS coalition is working to figure out exactly where the alcohol comes from, national statistics indicate that high school youth (ages 15-17) get alcohol from:
  1. someone under the age of 21 (22%)
  2. someone not related and over the age of 21 (20%)
  3. giving someone else money to purchase alcohol (19%).

Source: Report to Congress on the Prevention and Reduction of Underage Drinking, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, May 2011

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day October 29

Law enforcement, public health, and environmental professionals stand united in support of medication take-back programs, such as the DEA’s take-back event on Saturday, October 29, as the safest and most responsible way to dispose of old and leftover medicines.  Take-back programs are one way to prevent youth prescription drug abuse.

In our community, the North Precinct will be collecting unused medications on October 29, 10:00 a.m to 2:00 p.m. as part of the DEA's national take-back day.  Other Seattle Police precincts are also participating.  In addition to these one-day drop-off sites, local Bartell Drugs and Group Health sites take back medicines all of the time.

In Washington State, the Take Back Your Meds Coalition is advocating for a permanent, state-wide take-back program.  Drug manufacturers are in a unique position to take responsibility and pay for take-back programs as a cost of doing business, just as they already do in other countries. For a couple of pennies per prescription or bottle of cold pills, drug companies could finance and provide a safe ongoing medicine take-back system for our state.

In Olympia, big PHARMA has worked hard to dodge taking responsibility. Sadly, pressure from PHARMA stalled action in the WA Legislature last year. Luckily, this year our representatives again have a chance to pass a bill to create a state wide medicine take-back system by requiring companies selling medicines in the state to provide the program as part of doing business.

Photos from "Celebrate Healthy Youth"

Thanks to coalition member Christine Milton, here are a few photos from our October 10 event celebrating the reduction in local underage drinking rates.

 RADD members

 Jill Hudson and Chris Cronas

Denise Espania 

Kipp Strong and Kelly Kerby 

Carolyn Bernhard and Cherylynne Crowther 

Ray Hsiao and panel 

Gary Hothi

Underage drinking rates decline thanks to community-wide prevention activities

More than 50 people attended Monday's Celebrate Healthy Youth at Nathan Hale High School and learned about how the community in northeast Seattle came together to reduce underage drinking rates.  Following are links to media coverage of the event. 

How alcohol use was cut at two Seattle schools (Seattle Times)

Finding: North Seattle teens are drinking less (KOMO)

More about underage drinking in public parks . . .

From the West Seattle Blog: Teacher’s disturbing discovery in West Seattle park: Hazing.  Though the incident took place in West Seattle, it apparently involved Roosevelt and Garfield High School students.