Central Metrowest Substance Abuse Prevention Collaborative
The SAPC grant is a 3 year, $300,000 grant from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's Bureau of Substance Abuse Services was awarded to Hudson in 2015 and is a regional grant encompassing Hudson, Framingham, Natick, Ashland, Northborough and Southborough.
Why Underage Drinking Prevention?
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Underage drinking results in over 4300 deaths per year
- The 12-20 year old population consumes 11% of the total alcohol consumed in the US
- Underage drinkers consume more drinks per sitting than adults
- Binge drinking (5 or more drinks in a 2 hour period) is more common than youth
- 90% of youth alcohol use in the US is in the form of binge drinking
- Someone who begins alcohol use before the age of 15 is 40% more likely to develop addiction to drugs and/or alcohol.
- Underage drinking cost tax payers more than $249 billion in 2010 alone
Preventing underage drinking results in fewer adolescent deaths, lower rates of addiction in adults, and ultimately saves tax payer money.
Caring Adults Action Team
In 2015, key stakeholders in 6 communities located in central Metrowest partnered with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and other experts to identify risk factors in those communities that contributed to youth alcohol use and abuse. Among other risk factors, the group identified that connection to adult support outside of school was significantly associated with alcohol use and abuse. When compared to students who reported having a caring adult in their lives, students who could not identify a caring adult were:
- More likely to have ever used alcohol.
- More likely to have drank alcohol at least once in the last 30 days.
- More likely to have had used alcohol before the age of 13.
- More likely to report drinking 4-5 drinks in a sitting in the past 30 days.
- More likely to report that they have ‘been drunk’ in the past 30 days.
As a result of this finding, the CMSAPC developed strategies to both train adults outside the school environment to better develop meaningful relationships with youth, as well as help youth to identify the caring adults who already exist in their lives.
The Caring Adults Action Team (C.A.A.T.) works closely with experts locally and across the country to develop and deliver trainings on Positive Youth Development. This approach focuses on creating opportunities, fostering positive relationships and providing support for the purpose of building up leadership strengths and fostering protective factors against unhealthy behaviors.
The C.A.A.T. organizes trainings for individuals representing youth-serving organizations, community residents, law enforcement, and other groups. Trainings are structured for both individuals providing direct services for youth, as well as staff with power to make structural level changes for the purpose of building an organization’s capacity to:
- Express Care to Youth
- Challenge Youth Growth
- Provide Support to Youth
- Share Power with Youth
- Expand Possibilities for Youth
Additionally, the C.A.A.T. works with youth across the 6 communities to develop strategies aimed at increasing the visibility of caring adults within their own community among their peers.
Policy Action Team
In 2015, key stakeholders in 6 communities located in central Metrowest partnered with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and other experts to identify risk factors in those communities that contributed to youth alcohol use and abuse. Among other risk factors, the group identified that youth access to needed to be stemmed. According to the Metrowest Adolescent Health Survey, approximately 72% of youth who drank alcohol in the past 30 days reported getting the alcohol from a party, 52% reported getting the alcohol from a friend, and 39% reported getting alcohol from someone over the age of 21. In addition, 12% of youth reported purchasing alcohol at a store, tavern, bar, or public event with or without a fake ID.
The Access Action Team (A.A.T.) was established to formulate a strategy and develop programs aimed at reducing youth access to alcohol. The team concluded that youth access to alcohol is ultimately the result of inconsistent and potentially ineffective policies across the cluster that makes it easy for youth to either purchase alcohol themselves, or have friends or family members purchase alcohol for them. With that in mind, the A.A.T. works closely with local policy experts, health directors and other town and city officials in order to examines model policies, assess community readiness for change, and ultimately provide resources and support to community residents to push through changes.