Thank you to leaders of the Bi-Partisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic for inviting me here today to talk about the critical role of prevention in addressing our nation’s opiate crisis.
CADCA’s mission is to strengthen the capacity of community coalitions to create and maintain safe, healthy and drug-free communities globally.
We train over 12,000 adult and youth leaders each year on a comprehensive, evidence-based coalition model for community change.
The coalitions CADCA represents have reduced population-level substance abuse rates among youth through a multi-sector approach that addresses the root causes of the problem, engages the entire community and changes social norms.
CADCA brought this coalition model to congress in the mid-90’s and from those interactions arose the Drug-Free Communities Act, a federal grant program that has supported over 2,000 communities and currently funds 697 grantees. DFC-funded coalitions focus on reducing teen use of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and the nonmedical use of prescription drugs.
Because they are uniquely positioned within their communities, our coalitions were among the first to raise concerns about a growing opiate crisis more than a decade ago. At first, CADCA coalitions were dealing with this problem in pockets of the country – in Appalachia, for example.
Now, of course, we face a nationwide epidemic.
One thing that we know works is prevention through a community coalition model.
Science tells us that whenever we can delay the onset of first use of any drug, we increase a person’s chances to live a life free of addiction.
Similarly, we know that increases in access and availability leads to increase drug use, and that as perceptions of harm go down, use goes up.
These are the strategies that our coalitions work on, in a very comprehensive matter.
I am here to confirm that the coalition model is working on youth prescription drug abuse.
The most recent (2014) national evaluation of the DFC program by ICF International, found that:
“Both perception of risk and perception of parental disapproval of illicit use of prescription drugs increased significantly within middle school and high school youth” in DFC-funded communities, while the percentage change in past 30-day illicit use of prescription drugs also decreased significantly within both middle school and high school youth.”
As you all know, the senate-passed version of CARA, includes prevention and builds on the success of those DFC grantees.
CADCA supports all aspects of CARA – from changes in the criminal justice system, to expanding naloxone and medication assisted treatment.
And the addition of prevention is an essential part of any comprehensive approach to our opioid crisis.
Therefore, I am encouraged that a vote will be taken today on an amendment to make “prevention and recovery programs” an allowable use in the house opioid measure, HR-5046.
I believe we all are aware that this crisis cannot be solved without looking upstream and making that wise investment in effective primary prevention.
CADCA wishes to thank all those who join us in this fight to save lives and heal communities.
We join our 5,000 coalition partners across the U.S. to ask that any final, passed legislation to combat the opioid/heroin epidemic include the prevention provisions that we know are desperately needed.