68 percent of young adults studying in the 12th grade have tried alcohol.
21.3 percent of 12th graders and 16.6 percent of the 10th-grade students have smoked marijuana in the last month.
Almost a quarter of high school students in the US use at least one type of illicit drug like opioid painkillers, Amphetamines, Vicodin, and many others.
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), 2.14 million individuals over the age of 12 have been diagnosed with opioid abuse in 2016, which also includes 153,000 young adults between the ages of 12 and 17 years.
The rising numbers of teenage alcohol, tobacco, and drug abuse is a growing concern of the country. Anti-drug community coalitions are being formed to face these issues and create drug-free neighborhoods and school districts.
What is a Community Coalition?
A coalition is a type of partnership or alliance between organizations or/and individuals to work together towards a common goal. When such alliances are formed among individuals belonging to a particular community to address the short and long-term concerns of that group, it is referred to as a community coalition. These community coalitions can be formed for various purposes, including anti-drug coalitions. Although all community coalitions are collaborative efforts, they can vary from one another in various ways in terms of procedures, purposes, and governance.
Community coalitions can often be formed to tackle a single issue like opioid abuse, drug abuse, or alcohol abuse in the neighborhood or school district. For example, concerned individuals of the community can come together to form strategies and apply them in the neighborhood to make it an anti-drug environment. However, to address this single issue and accomplish the set goals, the advocates of the community and other members in the coalition might need to address a number of associated issues like mental health, lack of life skills in members of the community, lack of quality mental support systems, lack of trauma care, proper guidance, and many more.
Throughout the US, anti-drug community coalitions are being formed and many have created a significant difference in the local communities. Local coalitions have and will continue to help many American communities face and respond to issues of alcohol, drug, and tobacco use among adults as well as teenagers. If the entire community, including the teachers, parents, law enforcement forces, corporates, faith communities, health care providers, political leaders, etc. come together, the neighborhood, as well as numerous lives will be transformed.
Benefits of Forming Anti-drug Community Coalitions
1. More Effective Actions:
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller
As rightly said by the late Helen Keller, a well-formed anti-drug community coalition can exert much more power and influence than a single organization or an individual working towards the goal of preventing substance abuse. Moreover, the organizations and individual community members working within the purview of a structured coalition usually have access to more support, data, and resources than a single entity, to help them achieve the desired results efficiently.
2. Legitimate Claims:
Compared to individual efforts, when the power and influence of several prominent members of a community and different organizations come together for the fulfillment of a common goal, it attracts more attention to the coalition and by extension, to the goal that it is trying to achieve. As a result of which the overall coalition, as well as the individual members associated with the movement, greatly benefit from the increased visibility. A well-organized coalition not only carries more credibility but also has the power to attract useful alliances and ward off potential threats to the movement.
3. Access to Resources:
Forming a coalition and working within its structure presents the members with opportunities to access valuable resources, which otherwise would not have been available to individuals. Using the expertise, influence, and power of different members of the coalition will help pool resources to enhance the effectiveness of the strategies for drug prevention.
4. Improves the Community:
Community coalitions also improve the relationship between the individual members and/or organizations, who had never before had the opportunity to collaborate. Apart from fulfilling the short and long-term goals, such collaborations also strengthen the community as a whole. Working in a coalition establishes alliances that can continue to thrive and strengthen even after the coalition breaks down or ends.
Effective Anti-drug Community Coalition Strategies
- Provide Information:
Providing pertinent information in an effective manner can help in achieving the desired results in the community. For example, educational anti-drug presentations, seminars, and workshops can be conducted in local schools to make young adults aware of the adverse effects of drug and alcohol abuse. Beyond the school premises, the community as a whole can also organize for meetings and forums at town halls, to address such addiction-related issues that are faced by both adults and children.
- Offer Support:
One of the best strategies an anti-drug community coalition can undertake is to create opportunities for the people to seek out support from members of their community, which would not only reduce the risk of drug abuse but also enhance the sense of belonging in youngsters and teenagers. Support can be offered by organizing Narcotics or Alcoholics Anonymous support groups, youth clubs, parenting groups, and also referrals for such services.
- Skill Training:
Seminars, workshops, and activities designed to enhance the skills of members and participants can help as an effective anti-drug campaign. Technical assistance, training, strategic planning, and retreats can help addicts stay busy and do something useful with their life. This will help them kick the addiction and lead a healthy lifestyle while also regaining their self-esteem.
A community coalition does not form in a single day. Therefore, the members of the community will need to sit down together on a regular basis and form a set of goals that all agree upon, before formulating the strategies. A well-organized and structured anti-drug community coalition can help create a drug-free environment for the youth to grow up in.