Every single day, approximately 3,700 youth between the ages of 12 and 17 experiment with drugs for the first time. Nineteen percent of high school students admit to binge drinking or consuming five or more drinks in a row. Perhaps most chilling are the recent headlines proclaiming more Americans are now dying from drug overdoses than motor vehicle accidents or gun violence. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a department within U.S. Health and Human Services, offers the Drug-Free Communities Support Program to help counteract this disturbing trend.
About the Drug-Free Community Support Program
The DFC has two very specific goals. The first is to establish and strengthen collaboration among multiple community stakeholders to prevent and reduce youth substance abuse. The second is to reduce adult substance abuse over time by reducing community risk factors associated with it. Because drug abuse must be combated on many fronts, a coalition is needed to apply for the program. The coalition must include one or more representatives from each of the following:
- Youth (under age 18)
- Organizations that serve youth
- Law enforcement
- Religious/fraternal organizations
- Civic/volunteer groups
- Health Care professionals
- State, local or tribal government agencies with expertise in the field of substance abuse
- Other organizations involved in reducing substance abuse
Supported Activities and Selected Prevention Initiatives From Past Recipients
Activities supported by this grant include community education, enhancing skills, changing the physical design of the environment to discourage drug activity, changing the consequences for the purchase and consumption of drugs, and modifying or changing policies to reduce the risk of drug abuse or enhance protection against it. Here are some specific prevention efforts past recipients have implemented:
- The Delaware County Heroin Task Force (PA) raises public awareness of prescription pain killers as gateway drugs to heroin abuse. They advocate for permanent prescription drug disposal boxes and educating realtors about the dangers of unlocked medicine cabinets during home showings and open houses.
- The Concho Valley C.A.R.E.S. Coalition (TX) initiated a "Mix it, Seal it, Trash it" campaign for the proper disposal of prescription drugs. They have also established prescription take back-projects.
- The Tahoe-Truckee Future Without Drug Dependence organization in California is educating medical professionals on responsible prescriptions and best practices for chronic pain management.
- The Waukesha County Drug Free Communities (WI) group is sponsoring community heroin forums, distributing student-produced PSAs to local theaters, creating student outreach campaigns, and discouraging alcohol retailers from serving youth.
The DFC National Evaluation - The Program is Working
As evidence-based practices have become a priority for many federal grant-makers, DFC recipients are required to provide data on core measures for alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and prescription drugs. The results of program evaluations have been encouraging. According to a joint press release by the White House and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the 2014 National Evaluation Report found:
- A significant decrease in "past 30-day use" for alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and prescription drugs experienced a significant decrease among middle and high school students at the time of the study.
- The percentage of survey respondents who perceived moderate or great risks associated with tobacco, alcohol, and prescription drug use has increased.
- More middle-school students perceived greater peer and parental disapproval for use of all four of the substance areas; high school students perceived greater peer and parental disapproval for tobacco, alcohol, and prescription drug use.
The ONDCP offers a printable download infographic with statistical summaries of the program’s success that can be accessed at the link above.
Applying for the DFC Support Program
Eligible applicants are state and local governments, Native American tribes, academic institutions, nonprofits, schools and school districts, consortia, and the private sector. Coalitions must have worked together on substance abuse reduction for at least six months prior to applying. Coalitions must meet one of the following three requirements: 1) have never received an award through this program, 2) have concluded the first five-year funding cycle and is applying for a second five-year funding cycle, and 3) have experienced a lapse in their five-year cycle. Apply by March 15, 2017.
Update: The 2018 deadline is March 28.
Be sure to review Beverly Browning's 2016 post Grant Preparedness for Drug-Free Communities Support Program Grants for tips on how to put your best application forward.
The DFC requires evidence-based practices. Review the basics with this free download that covers the core concepts: