Amid the sobering headlines from the opioid epidemic, there is some encouraging news concerning drug use among young people. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that the 2017 Monitoring the Future survey conducted with high school students found that non-marijuana illicit drug use was at its lowest level in 20 years. Unfortunately, the study also showed a decline in perceived risk of experimenting with harmful substances. This indicates that the need for education remains crucial. To that end, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is once again offering the Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program to applicants who have not yet received this award to form community coalitions to prevent drug use among youth.
The Drug-Free Communities Support Program
The backbone of this program is community coalitions who join forces to prevent substance abuse among young people by addressing the risk factors involved with illegal drug use. Coalitions are expected to use the following seven strategies:
- Provide information - educational efforts such as workshops, seminars, and media presentations
- Skill enhancement - provide training to participants
- Provide support - create opportunities that reduce risk or increase protection
- Enhance access/reduce barriers - make it easier to use services and programs
- Change consequences - decrease the probability of behavior by changing the consequences for it
- Change physical design - alter the environment to reduce risk and enhance protection
- Modify/change policies - formal change in written procedures, by-laws, proclamations, rules, or laws
Awardees must also use the following five-step model for long-range planning:
- Assessment - identify youth substance use in the community and the conditions that contribute to it
- Capacity - build capacity to address and change the conditions that create the problem
- Planning - create a logic model, 12-month action plan, and multiyear strategic plan
- Implementation - implement action plans with multiple objectives, strategies, and activities
- Evaluation - monitor, sustain, improve, or replace prevention activities, efforts, and strategies.
Selected 2017 Recipients
Below are some of the 2017 recipients of the Drug Free Community Support Program. The full list is available here.
- The Southern Ute Community Action Program, Inc. (CO) and Celebrating Healthy Communities Program, which has long advocated The Science of the Positive prevention model, will continue its mission to "promote addiction-free lifestyles by building assets for all."
- Tempe Community Council, Inc. (AZ) and the Tempe Coalition, a grassroots coalition of business, law enforcement, civic groups, educators and the faith community, encourages many efforts to discourage drug abuse among youth, including support for the Social Host Ordinance, which makes it illegal to serve alcohol to anyone under 21.
- The Jefferson County Public Health Department (CO) and the Jefferson County Communities That Care Coalition will examine data on youth behavior to use evidence-based prevention efforts to keep them away from drugs.
- The Town of Enfield (CT), joining forces with the Enfield Together Coalition, will use drug education to counteract the rising prescription drug, opioid, and heroin use, which is becoming increasingly problematic in that part of the country.
Applying to the Program
Eligible applicants are community-based coalitions addressing youth substance use that have never received an award through this program. Coalitions must have one or more representatives from each of the following 12 areas:
- Youth (age 18 or younger)
- Youth-serving organization
- Law enforcement
- Religious/fraternal organization
- Civic/volunteer group
- Health care professional or organization
- State, local, or tribal governmental agency with expertise in the field of substance abuse
- Other organization involved in reducing substance abuse
Eligible applicants are Native American tribes and tribal organizations, state and local governments, schools, school districts, academic institutions, nonprofits, the private sector, and consortia. Apply by Thursday, March 29, 2018.
It should also be noted that there is a separate program, Drug-Free Communities Support Program - Competing Continuation for recipients whose funding has lapsed or that have finished their first 5-year cycle and are applying for a second 5-year funding cycle.