October 20, 2008 —

In the month of October, we are taking a close look at the role the community plays in helping to prevent many kinds of drug abuse, including cough medicine abuse. For these five weeks, each of us will post an article to FiveMoms.com that takes a close look at how we can call on other community members to help create awareness about dextromethorphan abuse.

Through my participation in the Five Moms campaign, I have had the pleasure of being involved in several events designed to raise awareness about the dangers of cough medicine abuse. Last April, I helped organize a town hall meeting in my own community and it was a great experience for me. I also have heard about the many different town halls that members of Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) have put together in the last few years.

Later this week, one of CADCA's coalitions, Genesis Prevention Coalition, is hosting a town hall meeting for activists and educators in the Atlanta, Georgia, area. Hopefully those of you in the area will be able to attend the event on October 23, which is being held at Teaching Museum South in Atlanta from 4 to 7 p.m. Since we have Five Moms members from all over the country, however, I thought it might be helpful to share with you what happens at these town hall meetings.

The core of every meeting is a presentation from local community coalition members about dextromethorphan abuse and local prevention tools to help parents fight it. The presenters share information and research about how teens are abusing cough medicine and how the community can get involved to prevent it. CADCA and CHPA (the organization that sponsors Five Moms) have created a tool kit called A Dose of Prevention that includes fact sheets and other materials for planning a town hall, and many coalitions have tapped into these resources.

The audience is usually composed of many different types of people: educators, healthcare and substance abuse prevention professionals, community leaders, law enforcement officers, and retailers. In addition to their invaluable place in the community, the participants also typically are parents. While they share their perspectives from their professional positions in the community, they also think about how teen medicine abuse affects their own children. That is why one of the most interesting parts of each town hall meeting, for me at least, is when the conversation opens up to the audience.

This entire process speaks volumes to me about why the community plays such an important role in prevention. Each town hall meeting is an opportunity to hear people express their concerns about cough medicine abuse from their position as advocates and parents. I had a wonderful time at the one I put together, and I hope that you have the chance to attend one in your own neighborhood soon. And if no other group is hosting one, consider using A Dose of Prevention to host your own meeting.

We always let our Five Moms members know about events that happen in their community, so sign up for our e-mail list to keep up to date on what is going on around you to prevent cough medicine abuse.