Coalitions in Action – Monroe County Coalition Youth Leaders Reflect on Their Forum Experience

“Monroe County Coalition was formed in 2008 due to excessive alcohol consumption among our teens,” said the coalition’s Executive Director Susan Moore. “Monroe County, Florida is a tourist community otherwise known as the ‘Florida Keys.’ The Florida Keys has excessive alcohol outlets and promotes a party atmosphere with over a million tourists every year generating revenue. Two major community events include Spring Break and Fantasy Fest which are party events. Even some children and family events sell alcohol during these events, which reflects a community norm favorable to use. Vaping has become a major problem with our youth. Medical marijuana, as in other communities, is on the rise which will make roadways even more unsafe in addition to drinking and driving.” 

“Engaging youth in prevention strategies has been very exciting,” said Moore. “Marathon Middle and High Schools engage youth in the Champions for Change youth leadership after school club. These youth enjoy being a part of the club, being part of the solution to problems and helping others. These youth implement peer to peer solutions even helping less fortunate youth with clothing, holiday gifts and supporting their local community. We are blessed to work with Champions for Change who provide skills, recognition and opportunities to youth.”

“Our youth were also proud to take part in CADCA’s 30th Annual National Leadership Forum this February,” said Moore. “Youth had an amazing time learning more about substance misuse. One of our youth leaders told us ‘It was an honor to speak to our members of congress openly about the importance of prevention. It was nice to feel like I had a voice on this important topic. Presenting on Capitol Hill was unforgettable. Getting to meet those who are in charge of our policies and talking to them was a very valuable experience.’” 

“The youth leaders are passionate about drug prevention and making a difference in their community,” said Moore. “They can now implement their new skills to strengthen their peer-to-peer activities at their schools and continue to use these leadership skills in the future.”

Among our middle school students, we’ve seen past 30-day use rates for alcohol use reduce from 13.8% in 2012 to 10.0% in 2018,” said Moore. “In addition, we’ve seen a reduction in binge drinking from 4.9% in 2012 to 3.3% in 2018, a reduction in marijuana/hashish use from 4.2% in 2012 to 2% in 2018 and a reduction in prescription pain medicine misuse from 2.9% in 2012 to 0.6% in 2018. We’re seeing similar results in our high school students, with a reduction in alcohol use from 45.7% in 2012 to 29.5% in 2018, a reduction in binge drinking from 26.5% in 2012 to 12.5% in 2018, a reduction in marijuana/hashish use from 31.3% in 2012 to 22.5% in 2018 and a reduction in prescription pain medicine misuse from 3.9% in 2012 to 1.1% in 2018.”

“To other coalitions that may be addressing some of the same issues, I would advise you to keep building your prevention system,” said Moore. “There is never enough prevention in communities. Prevention saves lives.”