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RSG 2015: Integrative Methods to Reducing Drug and Alcohol Abuse Yield Better Futures for PA Childre

It’s that time again…..everyone is focusing in on what this year will bring, hoping for positive efforts and new opportunities. At RSG, we’ve been reflecting on 2014 and the changes that bring us closer to our longstanding commitment to help positively affect the lives of young Pennsylvanians. In 2015, we reach higher and strive to continue our long history of helping youth and the adults who impact young lives each day.

At our core, we have always worked to reduce drug and alcohol abuse. Why has this been such a priority throughout our 15-year history? Drug abuse directly harms children and prevents their achieving positive futures. Our approach to addressing this issue can be seen through two lenses: prevention and intervention.

When a community has drug problems (and the corresponding blight on culture and society at large that accompanies this issue), children are raised in a less than safe, less than productive environment and are more likely to engage in problem behaviors as they grow older. Prevention efforts, like those conducted by RSG and community partners across PA, work to reduce children’s exposure to drug abuse and to provide them with resistance skills through proven evidence-based programming.

Likewise, when young people or their family members engage in greater and more dangerous levels of drug use, these problems and restricted opportunities for growth are magnified. This is why RSG recognizes just how damaging heroin and illegal opioid use can be to healthy and happy futures. We’re continually looking to partner with law enforcement, government officials and agencies, as well as the general public to develop approaches to intervene on this issue. These interventions serve the dual purpose of protecting society from drug related crimes, and also to get help for addicted individuals so they can get their lives back on track and break the horrible cycle of heroin addiction.

Recently, someone speaking at a large community event commented, “There is not a heroin problem among Pennsylvania’s youth.” Good. And there never should be. But there is a heroin problem for some PA parents, PA citizens, and even on PA’s highways…. and the front line people who work to help families and citizens each day in Pennsylvania recognize this problem as one which requires timely attention.

The pendulum seems to swing vastly in two directions: evidence-based prevention science and old fashioned, hard line drug enforcement. But, what about a middle ground? At RSG we propose in the new year a meeting of our greatest minds in these fields. In Pennsylvania we have the benefit of still acting as a Commonwealth where living in local communities really matters. RSG hopes to foster grassroots and grasstops approaches in Pennsylvania’s local communities in a meaningful way towards reducing severe and persistent drug dangers. It is time to engage our district attorneys , commissioners, school board members, parents, physicians and service providers in a combined effort that works through scientifically based prevention AND also works to address the pressing dangers presented by heroin and opioid abuse.

At RSG we look forward to working with our partners across the Commonwealth to address heroin reduction through prevention efforts and helping communities build collaborative solutions are supported by strong local leaders in 2015. The new year is a time to put aside differences in methodology or philosophy and activate solutions that make all the difference in the lives of young Pennsylvanians.

Wishing everyone a safe and supported 2015!

Andrea Niedererr, RSG

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