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Substance Abuse Rates Reduced With Anti-Drug Partnerships

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Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP)
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Suite 800, Rockwell 2 Building
Rockville, MD 20857
301-443-0373

According to a landmark 48-community study released today by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP), statistically significant reductions in drug and alcohol use were found among males in communities with anti-drug partnerships.

The study randomly selected a group of 24 CSAP funded Community Anti-Drug Partnerships and identified 24 demographically similar non-partnership communities. Across all of the 48 communities, substance use rates were measured and compared before and after an 18 month interval between 1994 and 1996. Data were collected from a total of 83,473 randomly selected adults in their homes, and 10th graders and 8th graders in their schools.

For the partnership communities, male substance use rates were lower at the second point in time, relative to the comparison communities — usually by about three percent — on five of the six outcome measures. In contrast, past month substance use rates in females remained unchanged, except for eighth grade girls in partnership communities, whose use of illicit drugs increased.

Nelba Chavez, Ph.D., SAMHSA Administrator said, “We now have proof that community partnerships can work to prevent substance abuse. We've also learned invaluable lessons about the characteristics of successful partnerships and the need to invest in developing gender-specific prevention approaches. These lessons can be used to benefit the thousands of communities Nation-wide that have anti-drug partnerships. In fact, we've already begun by applying these findings through CSAP training for the new Safe and Drug Free Communities partnership grant recipients.”

“The study identified five model community partnerships in very diverse locations: Springfield, Missouri; Lake County, Illinois; El Paso, Texas; South Central Los Angeles, California; and, Knox, Laural, and Whitley Counties, Kentucky,” said CSAP's Director Karol Kumpfer, Ph.D. “Each had measurable reductions in substance use and followed a core set of desirable strategies that can be used by other communities. These include a comprehensive vision, a wide sharing of this vision, avoidance or resolution of severe conflict in the partnership, nondisruptive partnership staff turnover, a strong core of committed partners, an inclusive and broad-based membership, decentralized management and extensive and diverse prevention activities.”

The study also found that adults reporting less illicit drug use also reported four conditions that were correlated with lower rates of substance use. These include living in a anti-drug partnership community, being involved in substance abuse prevention activities, living in a neighborhood perceived to have minimal illicit drug trading or illicit drug markets, and having a disapproving attitude toward the use of illicit drugs.

The main purpose of the Community Partnership program funded by CSAP from 1991 to 1996 was to decrease substance abuse by improving prevention infrastructure in the community environment. The Community Partnership program had the following features:

  • Five year grants, averaging about $350,000 per year;
  • A mandate to carry out community-initiated, long-range, and comprehensive substance abuse prevention programs;
  • Coordination and leveraging of existing prevention efforts;
  • Broad representation of at least seven local partner organizations and agencies, including local government, on the steering committees; and,
  • Mobilization of large numbers of participating residents as volunteers for coalition activities.

Overall, the community partnerships in the study attracted many people, who volunteered about 4,000 hours per partnership per year and embraced a broad variety of partnering organizations, averaging 120 per partnership. The Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) is a component of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). SAMHSA, a public health agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the lead federal agency for improving access to quality substance abuse prevention, addiction treatment and mental health services in the U.S. News media requests for information on SAMHSA's programs should be directed to Media Services at 1-800-487-4890. This release is available on the Internet at www.samhsa.gov.

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