NORTH READING — Town Administrator Michael P. Gilleberto, Police Chief Michael P Murphy and Drug Free Communities Grant Director Amy Luckiewicz are pleased to announce that the North Reading Youth Substance Use Prevention Coalition will be awarded more than half a million dollars over the next five years to support its continued efforts.
The $625,000 Drug-Free Communities Grant from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is the second and final round of funding through the program. North Reading previously received a $625,000grant in 2016.
“Our Coalition is run by an amazing group of town professionals and volunteers with backgrounds that span numerous sectors.” Gilleberto said. “This highlights the fact that youth substance use, and the essential work of prevention and education, are not police, school or family responsibilities alone — they’re a community-wide focus.”
Grant funds will be used to mitigate youth alcohol, tobacco, nicotine, prescription drug and marijuana use. The Coalition will continue relying upon the seven strategies for community change which include providing education, changing local policies and reducing barriers to treatment.
In addition, the Coalition will enhance its science-based community programming, such as the Guiding Good Choices parent program and 40 Developmental Assets program, which seek to build strong families and connections.
“It’s not just that we think these programs work. We know science-based programs are effective,” Luckiewicz said. “We’re thrilled to receive this second round of funding. We know that applications were exceptionally competitive this year and we are grateful to not have any gaps in funding.”
Since the Coalition began receiving its federal funding, the town has seen dramatic decreases in all targeted substances. Across grades six through twelve, alcohol use has dropped 7.1%, marijuana use is down 7.9%, vape use is down 4.6%, and prescription drug abuse dropped 1.5% since 2018.
North Reading’s was one of just 106 programs nationwide to receive funding through the grant program
“At a time when overdoses have reached an all-time high, it is important that we continue to invest in evidence-based prevention strategies,” Acting Director of National Drug Control Policy Regina LaBelle said. “According to the most recent national evaluation, youth substance use significantly decreased in communities with DFC-funded coalitions. We know that delaying substance use until after adolescence significantly reduces the likelihood of developing a substance use disorder and that every dollar spent on effective school-based prevention programs returns $18 in averted medical costs and improved productivity. By investing in evidence-based strategies like this, we can continue to make progress.”
The North Reading Coalition was also cited as a model coalition during a recent evaluation, citing its close ties to town departments and its placement within the Police Department.
“Having prevention efforts physically located in the same place as our Substance Abuse/Mental Health Clinician and right down the hallway from enforcement officers makes perfect sense,” Chief Murphy said. “It highlights what can be accomplished when prevention, treatment, intervention and enforcement all work together.”
To join the Coalition or to learn more, contact Amy Luckiewicz at email@example.com or call 978-257-5054. If you or a loved one needs mental health or substance abuse treatment, please contact Laura Miranda at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 978-357-5038.
About the Drug-Free Communities Support Program
The Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program, created by the Drug-Free Communities Act of 1997, is the Nation’s leading effort to mobilize communities to prevent youth substance use. Directed by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), in partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the DFC Program provides grants to community coalitions to strengthen the infrastructure among local partners to create and sustain a reduction in local youth substance use.
Recognizing that local problems need local solutions, DFC-funded coalitions engage multiple sectors of the community and employ a variety of environmental strategies to address local drug problems. Coalitions are comprised of community leaders, parents, youth, teachers, religious and fraternal organizations, health care and business professionals, law enforcement, and media. By involving the community in a solution-oriented approach, DFC also helps those youth at risk for substance use recognize the majority of our Nation’s youth choose not to use drugs.
Additionally, DFC-funded communities have proven to be more effective in addressing these complex social issues and have demonstrated an increase in positive outcomes over communities that do not have DFC’s.