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A New Approach to Prevent Youth Drug and Alcohol Abuse in Syracuse

  Maybe we need more team members to more effectively stop young people from abusing drugs and alcohol.  That’s the approach Terry Whitt of the Prevention Network is using to get more people involved.

"For instance for a business, the behavior that’ s happening around substance abuse issues, like loitering, like littering, like break-ins to get money, all of these things are intertwined with substance use.  So most people in the community, including businesses, have a vested interest in making their community the healthiest it can be.” 

Prevention Network along with Syracuse Model Neighborhoods introduced the Youth Substance Abuse Prevention initiative at a meeting this week. The coalition will be designed to include all sectors of the community.  Resource Center consultant AlisSefick says the public shared in some of the realities of substances that are abused, such as alcohol.

“Young people say that, alcohol for example, where they’re getting it, they’re getting it from their homes.  They’re using it in their homes or in their friends’ homes.  And what law enforcement has told us, enforcing the underage drinking laws, it’s hard for them to do.” 

She says the coalition might work toward stronger social hosting laws that hold property owners responsible for the underage drinking at their homes.  She also heard about a different problem – affecting schools.

“We don’t see alcohol consumption, at least the students are not saying that they’re not using it in schools, because it’s not easy to do that.  But the prescription pills that they’re not prescribed to take, that they’re getting just to get high off of, are easier to take in a school.”

Sefick and Whitt believe this kind of information can engage the entire community – prevention agencies as well as parents, businesses, government – to improve prevention for the whole community.  Whitt says she knows many efforts have already been tried…and knows law enforcement and treatment providers address substance abuse every day.

"We want to try to prevent it from happening in the first place, because if you don’t focus on prevention, then you might treat the people that have it now, but you're going to have a constant influx of people, especially young people especially, getting addicted or with substance abuse."  

Prevention Network holds a meeting to start organizing the new Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Initiative Monday August 18th at the Southwest Community Center starting at 12:30.  

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.