Repeated use of drugs over time can change the way our brain functions, which in turn makes the habit of occasional drug use transition into a compulsive one. This is how addiction begins is both adolescents and adults. despite knowing that the drugs are harming their physical and mental health, the affected person finds it extremely difficult to exert control over the impulse to use the drugs.
One of the many ways of controlling drug abuse among adolescents and young adults at school and at their homes is by forming effective community coalitions. It has been observed that community coalitions have the power to prevent substance abuse from taking place in a community. These coalitions also collaborate with private and public organizations to bring in effect several policies that keep adults and adolescents from trying out drugs. They also provide rehabilitation facilities for addicted individuals.
What is a Community Coalition?
A coalition, as the term suggests is primarily an alliance between organizations and/or individuals, who are working towards a common goal. Community coalitions form to address the concerns of a particular community and find solutions for the same. While the main function of a community coalition remains the same, the purpose, procedures, and governance can differ from one alliance to the other.
Community coalitions are formed around a single event or issue – in this case, the rising incidence of drug abuse among young adults and adolescents. However, the coalition can also take up secondary issues as its agenda which are directly associated with the main problem of drug abuse. These might include keeping the streets of the neighborhood free of drug peddlers, improving the living conditions of families, providing the children with a safe place to talk, providing state-of-the-art rehabilitation centers, and much more.
When it comes to preventing drug abuse among growing children, many communities not only organize drug prevention programs but also take the help of the school district to keep an eye on the at-risk children at all times.
Benefits of Building a Community Coalition for Preventing Drug Abuse Among Young Adults
Some of the benefits of forming a community coalition and working together to achieve a common goal have been discussed in detail below.
- Enhanced Effectiveness and the Collective Voice of the Community:
A band of people working together has the potential to exert more influence than a single individual working alone. A well-formed and governed community coalition generally has more power and influence to bring about changes than a lone crusader. Moreover, members of a community coalition, while working within a well-formed structure, can usually reach out to many other support groups to bring about the desired outcomes.
- Access to Resources:
A community coalition is made up of various individuals, who individually have access to varied resources that can be brought together and utilized for preventing drug abuse among adolescents. Operating within a coalition allows individuals to share valuable resources with the other members. This can help the coalition bring about the desired results effectively within a short span of time. Some of the common resources that are often shared among community coalition members include of the following:
1. Research Capability,
4. Expertise in Strategies,
5. Technological Support,
7. Access to Relevant Networks.
- Legitimate Action:
The presence of powerful individuals both within and outside of a community coalition for a common purpose commands more respect and garners more attention as compared to an individual acting alone. Thanks to the enhanced visibility, the coalition, its members, and the goal they are all working for also comes under the spotlight in a positive way, bringing in more allies and resources to the coalition.
- Improves the Community and Associated Relationships:
Apart from preventing substance abuse among adolescents, a community coalition brings together different individuals who till date may not have collaborated with each other to achieve a common goal. This creates opportunities for networking, building long-term relationships, and forming friendships among the members.
This also a strengthens the overall community by establishing bonds between its many members, strengthening the sense of loyalty among the coalition members, and more. Coalitions bring together persons from different strata of society and help to establish long-term bonds across age, race, gender, and other traditional dividing factors.
Successful Community Coalition Case Study for Drug Prevention
Page Alliance for Community Action Counter Prescription Drug Abuse Among Young Adults
In 2017, the Page County in Virginia had to grapple with the issues of rising prescription drug abuse in the area. To counter with this, the members of the community came together to form the Page Alliance for Community Action in Luray, Virginia.
This community coalition hosted an outdoor movie night for free to bring the members of the community together while also addressing the drug abuse problem and educating the attendees about drug safety.
According to the community’s needs assessment, it was found that most reported cases for opiate abuse came from young adults between the ages of 18 to 25 years. Therefore, the coalition members decided to screen the movie ”Invincible” to bring in the family crowd. With an attendance of 170 people, the event was deemed a huge success.
The coalition, apart from providing free entertainment, educated the attendees about prescription drug safety and also distributed Deterra bags to dispose of prescription medications safely.
Community coalitions not only expand the support base for a particular agenda but also help create relevant connections and networks. The sheer number of people in a coalition can help in achieving the desired results quickly and in an effective manner.