Coalition receives grant to fight youth substance use

The Bristol Prevention Coalition for a Drug-Free Community announced a five-year grant award to prevent youth substance use.

Funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and administered through the city of Bristol, the federal grant totals $125,000 per year.

As a primary resource for substance abuse prevention in the Bristol community, a press release said, the coalition’s 2016-2017 Action Plan will address alcohol and marijuana use among sixth through 12th grade Bristol students. Earlier this year, the release explained, the coalition decided to focus on these two substances after analyzing current data and taking into consideration local conditions in the Bristol community.

During the 2015-2016 school year, over 14 percent of all students in grades six through 12 reported using alcohol within 30 days, and 8.6 percent of those students reported having used marijuana within 30 days. In addition, the release said, almost 1 in 10 seniors reported using medication not prescribed to them in the last 30 days.

“The data indicates that Bristol students are in the early stages of substance use. We need to act, and prevention is key,” said Bristol Youth & Community Services Director Eileen McNulty, who serves as co-chairperson of the coalition, in a press release. “We’re looking to implement environmental strategies, such as policy changes that influence attitudes about substance use. Ultimately, this will help the Coalition achieve its goal of reducing alcohol and marijuana use among youth.”

Donna Osuch, parent and co-chair of the coalition commented, according to the release, that “from the perspective of a parent of teens, it’s alarming. But we can do something, and I want to help make sure Bristol’s story ends well.”

The coalition will ensure progress is being made in its action plan by continuously analyzing data and updating strategies throughout the course of the five-year grant, the release said.