Goal Statement: The goal of this prevention program is to reduce the rate of adolescent use and abuse of drugs and alcohol in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Significant Findings: Rates of excessive drinking are higher in St. Petersburg than the state, and the vibrant night life lends itself to that lifestyle (County Health Rankings & Roadmaps). It is important to address adolescent substance use and abuse, as approximately 15% of the adolescent population have used illicit drugs (High-Risk Substance Use in Youth, 2020). Experimentation with substance use is associated with a litany of potential consequences including addiction, loss of life, and mental and physical health consequences. Adolescents are vulnerable to substance use and abuse, in part, because their brain is still developing (Substance Misuse Prevention for Young Adults). Adolescents can face a variety of factors that incline them to cope with substance use, including peer pressure, lack of acceptance for LGBTQ status, and a narrative perpetuated by the media wherein substance exploration is viewed as a form of identity exploration (Substance Misuse Prevention for Young Adults). Ultimately, the decision to use substances is based on intrapersonal and interpersonal factors, and action must be taken.
Objectives/Strategies/Interventions/Next Steps: Successful prevention efforts should entail a multifaceted and dynamic approach from counselors to strengthen protective factors, while mitigating risk factors. It is important to partner with local schools to connect with the local adolescents and their families. Specific steps could include addressing the students at the local middle and high schools to promote a healthy lifestyle that includes abstaining from substance use. Psychoeducation can be incorporated to train the adolescents in how to resist peer pressure, as well as how to communicate with parents about the temptation. Through the local school’s PTA, a counselor can connect with parents and guardians of the youths to offer communication training and inform the guardians of the potential dangers of adolescent substance use and the level of influence that they have. The “They hear you” campaign could be introduced to the families of the adolescents to reinforce the belief that children listen to their families (SAMHSA). To address those adolescents in the community who are currently suffering from a substance use disorder, a counselor could make the community aware of resources, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, to facilitate sobriety through a presentation at local schools. It is important to address substance use at an interpersonal and intrapersonal level.