Advocate, Collaborate, Treat: A Local Approach to Preventing Substance Abuse

In 2021, the ACT Drug Free Community Coalition won CADCA’s Dose of Prevention Challenge, and as the Program Coordinator, I was able to have a firsthand look at the impact that we were able to have on our communities.

Throughout participating in the challenge during National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month in October, we empowered communities in southeast Michigan through culturally sensitive and bilingual education about over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription cough medicine abuse. We reached over 3,000 community members through both in-person events and online efforts. It was amazing to see the direct impact we had in our communities!

For starters, we hosted a DEA Rx Take Back Day, a panel at a local high school for 900 students, and a “Say BOO To Drugs!” trunk or treat event at the local Inkster Police Department.

Say “BOO!” to Drugs trunk or treat event

Other events included coffee chats with experts Dana Suchow, award-winning speaker, educator, and coach specializing in adolescent mental health and eating disorders, and Tom O’Donohue, Certified Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist, regarding the co-occurrence of mental health issues and medicine abuse among youth.

In addition to our events, we also ran a social media campaign featuring daily posts about the dangers of cough syrup misuse. We live streamed “Did You Know?” sessions as well as the Botvin LifeSkills series, featuring substance abuse prevention specialists speaking about how the day’s topic related to cough medicine abuse.

Since southeast Michigan is home to a large Arabic immigrant population, practicing cultural sensitivity and inclusivity is essential, and bilingual posts and videos were created to reach all community members. The coalition provided videos in both Arabic and English to effectively spread awareness.

We also really wanted to make sure this information and programming was accessible to the entire community, so creating programming that was available virtually, in person, and in a variety of different formats and languages was a priority for us.

We were so honored to accept the 2021 Dose of Prevention Award in recognition of our efforts and are so grateful for CADCA’s continued support of our community.

To learn more about the ACT Drug Free Community Coalition and the great work we continue to do throughout the year in southeast Michigan, visit our website and follow us on social media.

Mara Phillips is the Program Coordinator at the ACT Drug Free Community Coalition, a proud coalition of Leaders Advancing and Helping Communities (LAHC) in southeastern Michigan, which aims to reduce substance abuse through culturally sensitive, age-appropriate, and inclusive programming. Learn more about the coalition and LAHC’s other youth programs here. You can also connect with the ACT Drug Free Community Coalition on Facebook and Instagram and LAHC on Twitter and TikTok.

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Increased awareness can only mean increased prevention. Join us in the fight against teen cough medicine abuse by exploring and sharing our free resources.