The pandemic hasn't stopped us from advocating for prevention. Earlier this month, SafeLaunch facilitated a meeting with substance abuse experts from across the country to begin crafting a national message for the important work of legislative advocacy. Representatives from The Institute for Behavior and Health, Smart Approaches to Marijuana, Matforce, Parent Movement 2.0, Johnny's Ambassadors, RyeACT Coalition, and Every Brain Matters participated in this first discussion. Dr. Robert DuPont, Dr. Caroline DuPont and Corinne Shea from the Institute for Behavior and Health presented profound data which clearly shows that all youth substance use is related, regardless of drug. We discussed the purpose of the growing One Choice Community, and how national data supports all of our primary prevention efforts to protect youth from any substance use. The slideshow presented by Kevin Sabet and Luke Niforatos of Smart Approaches to Marijuana provided a comprehensive media history of drug prevention efforts dating back 50 years. The group identified budgetary challenges as well as opportunities made possible by new technology, both important factors for this national effort.
In work distinct from SafeLaunch but exemplifying the effectiveness of advocacy, SafeLaunch co-founder Ron Cuff has been working on a local watershed restoration project and meeting with elected and appointed representatives to affect change at the local level. People from across the country have become aware that vast numbers of our fellow humans are living outside without proper shelter or sanitation. The majority are suffering from untreated substance use disorders and co-occurring mental illness, complicating efforts to help them. In Paso Robles, California, dozens of people have set up camp in the Salinas Riverbed which, during the rainy season, flows into the sensitive Monterey Bay marine habitat. In Paso Robles and cities across our country, the challenges municipalities face connecting people in need to services is great, but the need to prevent this human tragedy from continuing unabated is even greater. Ron's experience shows that it is possible to go upstream to keep people from falling into the proverbial river, rather than attempting to rescue them after the fact. Read Ron's opinion piece in the Paso Robles Daily News here.