Grant Money Goes to Substance Abuse Prevention
Feds gave $16.4 million to state and tribal agencies in 2011 for prevention
ALASKA - Alcohol, inhalants and other dangerous drugs continue to threaten the future of Alaska children.
Next week the head of the Federal Center for Substance Abuse Prevention is visiting the state to see how grant money is being used to help prevent abuse.
Experts say education is key.
When kids go to Southcentral Foundation's primary care center for routine check-ups, they also get a lesson on drugs and alcohol.
"…Starting at age 11 to talk about the risks of substance and alcohol use, and doing some screenings to determine use if any might already be going on," Guilford Prickette of Southcentral Foundation’s Behavioral Health unit explained.
The head of the Federal Center for Substance Abuse Prevention will meet with state and tribal agencies Monday and Tuesday to hear how federal dollars are being spent, and to find out what more can be done to prevent drug abuse.
Putting funding into education is one of the keys, according to counselors and youth workers.
"We really need to have a statewide effort to make sure we are getting the information into the schools into the villages as much as possible, every day," Prickette said.
Education for some youth isn't as easy as it sounds.
"Through our street outreach, a lot of the times our street outreach will see the youth while they are actually under the influence, and trying to get them to start making the steps towards accepting services and coming through our doors is difficult because that trust building is so important," said Stephanie Garrard of Covenant House.
Limited resources don’t help the problem of substance abuse in some rural communities and villages.
"There might be less than a hundred people living in that village,” Prickette said, “and the funding may not be available to have a full-time mental health professional or substance abuse professional available there all the time."
Funding for abuse prevention could be targeted at new technologies – Southcentral Foundation's primary care center has computer teleconferencing capability.
"Almost all the villages in Alaska now have some mechanism by which they can communicate via video teleconference; that's a resource that I think makes perfect sense for Alaska," Prickette said.
With many young people already tech-savvy, teleconferencing is believed by some to be a tool of the future to help tackle drug abuse in Alaska.
To help prevent substance abuse the federal government gave 27 grants worth $16.4 million to various state and tribal agencies in 2011.