Governor Funds Substance Abuse Prevention

For Immediate Release: July 31, 2007
Media Contact: Communication Office
802-863-7281

Burlington, Vt. - Gov. Jim Douglas announced plans today to distribute more than $9.4 million in drug and alcohol prevention grant funds to as many as 24 Vermont communities to develop, strengthen and maintain substance abuse prevention services throughout the state.

The grants, $2.35 million in federal funds per year for the next four years, will impact underage drinking and high-risk alcohol and marijuana use by Vermonters age 25 and younger.

As part of the process, the Vermont Department of Health announced requests for proposals today for Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) State Incentive Grant (SIG) funds awarded to the state by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

"At the core of my DETER (Drug Education, Treatment, Enforcement and Rehabilitation) initiative is the belief that sustained prevention efforts at the community level are the best way to reduce alcohol, tobacco, and drug use among young people," said Gov. Douglas.  "It takes a state full of communities working together to solve a problem of this magnitude." 

The state's "New Directions" program has been featured by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention as a case study of how to bring together federal, state, and local partners. The program established methods for collecting and comparing data that can be used to assess the effectiveness of community-based efforts.

"We continue to build on what we have learned from public health programs already in place here in Vermont," said Health Commissioner Sharon Moffatt, RN, MSN. "Our New Directions Coalitions have developed a national reputation for putting successful prevention programs in place in Vermont communities."

Still, prevalence rates among 18-to-25 year-olds for alcohol consumption, binge drinking, and marijuana use in Vermont continue to be well above national averages.  Vermont has the highest rate of marijuana use in the nation and ranks in the top 10 among all states for both alcohol consumption and binge drinking in this age group.

"There is still much work that needs to be done," Commissioner Moffatt said. "Drug use still seems to alarm people more than the use of alcohol. But between 60 to 70 percent of people who go into treatment for substance abuse are admitted with a primary diagnosis of alcohol abuse."

As part of the SAMHSA grant awarded in 2005, the Health Department established an Epidemiological Work Group and conducted a statewide needs assessment to identify Vermont's most costly substance abuse issues.  An extensive review and analysis of statewide data revealed the top three priorities for Vermont are underage drinking, binge drinking, and marijuana use among people under the age of 25.

Applicants for the SPF grants will be required to develop successful programs that represent all the stakeholders in the community, including prevention service providers and community leaders.

"Behavior patterns set early in life and the decision to use alcohol and drugs can cause irreparable harm," Gov. Douglas said. "Addictions can become life-long. This funding should make a significant and lasting impact in our prevention efforts statewide."

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