Governor’s Office launches drug prevention pilot in all 15 counties

(submitted photo)

Governor Ducey’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family has announced the preliminary results of a seventh-grade pilot drug prevention program – Healthy Families – Healthy Youth.

The pilot program funded through the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration Prevention Block Grant reached all 15 counties impacting seventh-grade youth and their parents/caregivers across Arizona, according to a press release.

The back-to-school night of education allowed participating seventh-grade families the opportunity to learn about the dangers of adolescent drug use and create a family prevention plan to stay drug free during this critical transition school year.

“We chose seventh grade because Arizona youth most often begin using alcohol or other drugs between 12 – 13 years of age,” said Debbie Moak, director of the Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family, in the release.

“With nine out of 10 addicts first drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes or using other illicit drugs before the age of 18, it is imperative that we scale effective prevention programs to reach all Arizona youth and their families.”

Arizona State University Southwestern Interdisciplinary Research Center administered retrospective participant and facilitator surveys at the end of the program and are in the process of collecting post 90-day surveys from students and attending adults.

Preliminary results show that after the program 98 percent of participating youth felt confident that they could stay drug free during seventh grade and 95 percent of participating adults had a clear plan with their youth to avoid drugs and alcohol during the coming year.

Participating schools implemented the program during a back-to-school night, as not to interfere or detract from classroom instructional time, the release stated.

Many of the schools partnered with local substance abuse coalitions, county public health offices and other community resources on the night of the event to strengthen family, school and community relationships throughout the school year.

“Been here 30 years and I was amazed at the parent and students working together to form a plan for saying ‘no,’” said one program facilitator, in the release. “I felt that the material was non-threatening and blameless which gave our parents and students the freedom to carry on serious discussions.”

To learn more about the Healthy Families – Healthy Youth program visit https://SubstanceAbuse.az.gov.

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