The Drug-Free Ashley County (Arkansas) Coalition endeavors to join other communities in our nation to fight the epidemic condition of overwhelming substance abuse. Quoted from a report by the National Association of Counties Research Foundation, “At both the county and regional level, coalitions are essential to addressing youth substance use. Counties have expressed that siloed approaches are ineffective and ultimately lessen impact. In addition to addressing limited reach, leveraging coalitions can help local leaders consolidate resources and expertise, and distribute risk and responsibility across multiple organizations while increasing potential impact. By aligning with school boards, faith-based organizations, local and regional entities, philanthropic organizations and the criminal justice sector, counties can foster a deeper commitment and more effective community response to solving youth substance use issues.” Based on this rationale, the Drug-Free Ashley County Coalition embraces the two goals of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through its Drug-Free Communities Support Grant. Those goals are as follows:
“1. Establish and strengthen collaboration among communities, public and private non-profit agencies, as well as federal, state, local, and tribal governments to support the efforts of community coalitions working to prevent and reduce substance use among youth (individuals 18 years of age and younger).
2. Reduce substance use among youth and, over time, reduce substance use among adults by addressing the factors in a community that increases the risk of substance use and promoting the factors that minimize the risk of substance use.”
Specifically, the Drug-Free Ashley County Coalition undertakes the challenge to reduce previous 30-day use of alcohol/underage drinking, marijuana use, and misuse of prescription drugs by at least 1% per year for the next five to ten years. This outcome will be evaluated through the Arkansas Prevention Needs Assessment (APNA) Survey done annually in Arkansas school districts and will bring all reported instances for youth of Ashley County down to or below the State averages. In addition to the APNA survey, Ashley County youth will be surveyed annually as to their perceptions of county-wide substance abuse, its root causes, and variants, and what strategies can be engaged to counter those conditions.