The Stoneham Coalition, also known as the Substance Abuse Coalition, has been awarded a $625,000 grant over five years to implement programs to prevent drug, alcohol and tobacco misuse among young people.
The good news of the Drug-Free Communities (DFC) grant came from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, triggering an elated email message to Coalition members from Shelly MacNeill, Coalition chairperson.
“Our number one goal is to make Stoneham a safe and drug-free place for our youth,” said Shelly MacNeill, Chairperson of the Coalition. “Prevention is a powerful tool to counteract drug use in our community, and we will use this funding to help guide our youth to make healthy choices about substance use.”
Town Administrator Thomas Younger commented: “I am very appreciative of this grant to continue funding the Coalition and the Town in battling addiction in our community. I am looking forward to the many aspects of our program that can reach those in need due to this funding.”
Police Chief Jim McIntyre, a member of the Coalition, added: “This DCF Support Grant will help Stoneham continue to make progress in the area of educating our youth on the consequences of substance abuse. Since 2013, the Stoneham Coalition has partnered with key stakeholders in our community to address substance abuse. The awarding of this grant recognizes our accomplishments and provides funding for future initiatives.”
This is the third year that the Stoneham Coalition, representing a board spectrum of health professions, educators and parents, has applied for the federal grant. Each year only a limited number of applications are awarded nationwide.
“Special thanks go to all those who gave their time and expertise in writing this grant,” MacNeill said, “including Les Olson [former Stoneham Schools superintendent), Carol O’Loughlin, Judy Saddacca, Maureen Buzby, Colleen Goode and of course our grant writer, Jeffrey Rodman”
Prescription-drug-abuse prevention is one of the core measures of effectiveness for local DFC coalitions, and coalitions nationwide have led innovative opioid prevention initiatives.
DFC’s 2016 National Evaluation End-of-Year Report found that at least 97% of middle school and 93% of high school youth report that they have not illicitly used prescription drugs in the past 30-days in DFC communities.
Additionally, perception of risk of illicit prescription drug use was generally high (80-84%). The report also found that perceived risk of illicit use of prescription drugs was very similar to perceived risk of tobacco use (80-83%), and was higher than for both alcohol (69-73%) and marijuana use (53-73%). Finally, the report detailed that peer disapproval of illicit prescription drug use increased significantly for both age groups within all DFC coalitions.
Oversight of the DFC grant will be maintained by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services.