“Whether a prevention advocate is from the Georgia coast or the north Georgia mountains, our goal is the same: to stop substance abuse before it starts,” says Voices for Prevention Coordinator Brittney Newton.
On February 10, 2016, Voices for Prevention (V4P), an alliance of Georgia prevention stakeholders, hosted Substance Abuse Prevention Day at the Capitol.
Created by DBHDD in 2014, V4P brings together more than 40 prevention community coalitions and 14 Drug-Free Communities grantees across the state to speak as one. The efforts of these providers and prevention advocates are having an impact on the way that Georgia’s youth think about substance use. According the 2015 Georgia Student Health Survey 2.0, between 2013 and 2014, the number of young people in Georgia who viewed substance abuse as harmful increased by more than 30%.
Substance abuse prevention not only saves lives, it makes economic sense. Every dollar spent on prevention saves $30 according to a SAMHSA study.*
“I learned early on that if you want to get somewhere, you’ve got to do the work, you’ve got to hold onto your dream, and you’ve got to have hope. If we can reach our young people before their dreams die, before they lose hope, we can help them become who they are truly meant to be.” – Travis Fretwell, director of DBHDD’s Office of Behavioral Health Prevention
Prevention, like treatment, involves helping people change risky behavior. Prevention messages are largely directed toward young people. There is a widely held misconception among young people that “everybody is drinking; everybody is doing drugs.” In truth, says Fretwell, more than 80% of students in Georgia do not use any kind of substance.** “We want our young people to know that being part of the majority means not using drugs or alcohol,” says Fretwell.
*Investing in Prevention Saves $ Data from Miller, T. and Hendrie, D. (2009). Substance Abuse Substance Abuse Prevention Dollars and Cents: A Cost-Benefit Analysis. DHHS Pub. No. (SMA) 07-4298. Rockville, MD: SAMHSA/CSAP
**According to the 2015 Georgia Student Health Survey 2.0, fewer than 20% of youth in grades 9-12 report using alcohol, marijuana, methamphetamine, or Rx drug painkillers without a doctor’s prescription in the last 30 days.