Addressing Opioids and Substance Use in the Community

In response to the devastating impact of opioid addiction and rising overdose rates, the Chelsea community has resolved to implement proven strategies to prevent substance use disorders, improve access to care and treatment, and increase public safety.

Drug Free Communities Grant

In October of 2017, Healthy Chelsea was awarded a Drug-Free Communities (DFC) grant which provides funding for community coalitions to strengthen their infrastructure to help reduce local youth substance use. DFC grants are directed by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) in partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). This work is being coordinated by Yasmine Hung, who joined our team in March 2018.

Goals of the DFC Grant include:

  • Establishing and strengthening community collaborations to support prevention efforts and reduce substance use among youth. Coalition membership includes representation from each of the 12 sectors.*
  • Reducing substance abuse among youth (18 years and younger) and, over time, reducing substance abuse among adults by addressing the factors in the community that increase the risk of substance abuse and promoting the factors that minimize the risk of substance abuse.

Collaborating Across the Region

Healthy Chelsea is also part of a regional partnership that is addressing youth substance use prevention called the Substance Abuse Prevention Collaborative (SAPC). The purpose of this initiative is to implement evidence-based environmental strategies and “best practices” that can be sustained through local policy, practice and systems changes. Ryan Barry is the Coordinator of this grant, which is funded by the MA Department of Public Health, Bureau of Substance Abuse Services. This 5-year initiative serves the communities of Chelsea, Revere, Saugus, and Winthrop.

The SAPC grant’s goals are to:

  • Engage youth across the four communities to work locally and regionally to help assess, plan and implement effective prevention strategies on target substance use priorities.
  • Implement culturally competent and sustainable strategies that are specific and appropriate for each community.
  • Advocate for regional policy, practice, systems and environmental changes that support youth prevention.
  • Share best practices across the region.

Ryan leads recruitment of youth across the cluster to actively participate in these strategies, while simultaneously engaging a variety of other community members and organizations to become involved in youth substance use prevention initiatives. The funding is used to strengthen the capacity of each community to address youth substance use, both individually and as a region. In this role, Ryan also acts as resource to the communities’ mayors/city managers, boards of health, school departments, police departments, youth, parents, and other residents in each community regarding youth substance use issues.

Developing a Work Plan Using Evidence Based Strategies

We use SAMHSA’s Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) as a guide for planning and implementing prevention strategies, programs and events.

The SPF process is designed to help communities reduce risk-taking behaviors, promote resilience, and prevent unhealthy behaviors in individuals and families across the life span.

Healthy Chelsea has developed an action plan using CADCA’s seven strategies for community-level change:

  1. Providing Information
  2. Enhancing Skills
  3. Providing Support
  4. Enhancing Access/Reducing Barriers
  5. Changing Consequences
  6. Changing Physical Design
  7. Modifying/Changing Policies

What does this all look like in our community?

Healthy Chelsea’s strategic plan includes:

  • Strengthening our existing collaborations and increasing our coalition membership.
  • Providing training opportunities and increasing knowledge of local youth substance use issues among local partners.
  • Enhancing skills by employing evidence-based prevention curricula in schools and youth serving organizations.
  • Advising a dedicated group of youth interns who organize peer-to-peer educational opportunities on youth substance use issues and healthier living options.
  • Providing information to help change community norms about teen substance use through local campaigns developed and led by youth.
  • Providing information and increase awareness of factors that lead to youth substance use among parents and other adults.
  • Modifying/Changing policies through review of school policy and protocols.