November 13, 2012
I am amazed at the incredible impact Substance Abuse Free Environment, Inc., or SAFE, a Chesterfield, VA coalition, has had in reducing inhalant abuse among county youths. SAFE’s Inhalant Abuse Prevention Initiative resulted in past 30-day use among eighth-graders falling from 8.2 percent in 2005 to 4.5 percent in 2007 and to 3.0 percent in 2010. This represents a 63 percent reduction over five years, which is markedly lower than the national average of 4.1 percent. Another successful intitiative included partnering with HVAC companies to install locking caps on air conditioner units to prevent unauthorized access by youths who inhale the refrigerant - which could be deadly. This environmental approach has drawn the attention of the White House - The Office of Drug Control Policy noted this environmental approach in its newsletter. By bringing the community together - county departments, nonprofit organizations, businesses, residents and the faith-based community - initiatives are established that bring positive results. Not only has SAFE helped make county youths safer and healthier, but they have earned international respect and are sought-after speakers on drug-prevention issues. I encourage others to get involved with SAFE.
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MY ROLE:General Member of the Public