U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today announced $875,000 in federal grant funds for seven Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Programs in Nassau and Suffolk counties. The grants will provide $125,000 in funding to local community coalitions for preventing youth substance use, including prescription drugs, marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol. On Long Island, the grant recipients include: Central Nassau Guidance & Counseling Services for its Northport/East Northport Community Drug and Alcohol Task Force, Islip Union Free School District for its COMPASS IDEA Coalition, Manhasset Community Coalition Against Substance Abuse, Rockville Centre Youth Council, Human Understanding Growth Services for the Sag Harbor Coalition, Lindenhurst Community Cares Coalition, Riverhead Community Awareness Program.
“The prescription drug abuse crisis on Long Island is symptomatic of the larger opioid epidemic that New York State and the entire country is facing, and we need to fight back now,” said Senator Schumer. “These grant recipients have been on the front lines of combatting the disturbing drug abuse uptick among our Long Island youth and this investment will provide them with the resources they need to continue their life-saving work.”
“This critical federal funding will help facilitate a wide range of prevention programs to combat substance abuse here on Long Island,” said Senator Gillibrand. “As the opioid epidemic continues to grow in New York and across the country, we can’t wait any longer to take action and curb this growing crisis. Substance abuse is a serious problem especially for our youth, and we need to work towards creating a safe environment for individuals and families. By increasing accessibility to services, we can help provide the support and resources people need to put their lives back together.”
Background on 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.
The DFC Program provides grants of up to $625,000 over five years to community coalitions that facilitate youth and adult participation at the community level in local youth drug use prevention efforts.
According to data for 2014, an estimated 3,800 young people per day between the ages of 12 and 17 used drugs for the first time in the preceding year. Additionally, high school seniors are more likely to be current smokers of marijuana than cigarettes and non-medical use of prescription or over-the-counter drugs remains unacceptably high. Parents should also know that 17% of high school seniors in 2015 reported binge drinking (i.e., 5 or more drinks in a row) in the past two weeks.
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.