Community coalitions are oftentimes one of the only groups working across the entire community environment to address youth alcohol, tobacco and substance use. Many organizations and individuals can impact the individual and address specific aspects of the environment; but, the coalition is the only group that is looking COMPREHENSIVELY at the environment and is seeking to achieve population-level changes to the entire community.
Approaches that target individual users can reach limited numbers of people. Community-based programs that provide direct services to individuals are important partners in a comprehensive community-level response to substance use. Strategies that focus on the availability of the substance and the entire community environment—although more difficult to implement—are likely to impact many more people. For example, information learned by teenagers who attend alcohol prevention classes at school, while important, these individual-focused strategies are limited to those students enrolled in the classes. Chances of keeping youth from using alcohol are greater if those classes are part of a comprehensive strategy that also includes local ordinances that limit billboards and other advertising near local schools, and community-wide policies that mandate responsible beverage service training as part of the alcohol licensing process. These strategies, when coupled with increased funding for compliance checks and increased fines for violations, ensure that alcohol retailers are less likely to sell to minors and combined, the strategies will have an even greater impact. Such environmental-focused strategies target the substance (e.g., the availability of alcohol) and the environment (e.g., implementing policies to reduce youth access). The role of the coalition is to identify or coordinate the implementation of these comprehensive strategies.
A 5-Step Systematic and Measurable Approach
One Johns Creek partners with the DFC initiative which uses the Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The SPF’s seven elements guide coalitions in developing the infrastructure needed for community-based public health approaches leading to effective and sustainable reductions in substance misuse. The elements shown include:
Seven Strategies for Community Change by CADCA, Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America
Focusing both on the individual and the community