It was an honor for me to represent TC USA at the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America’s 22nd Annual National Leadership Forum in Washington D.C. February 6-10, 2012. More than a “conference”, it is a “movement” as 2,700 substance abuse prevention and treatment advocates come together to share their knowledge and set national goals to reach their missions of help as well as by learning the latest strategies to fight substance abuse and hearing from nationally-known experts and policymakers, together we become optimal vehicles to bring about population-level change in communities. Most encouraging is to see the many youth who attend this conference, taking a stand against drug and alcohol use.
During the 4-day conference it was my honor to represent you to our government leaders and agencies as I continue to bring the visibility and emphasize the great work each of the TC Centers is doing across the nation. I also attended a Capitol Reception in the Dirksen Senate Office Building and participated in personalized meetings with federal leaders on Capitol Hill. I was able to share the impact Teen Challenge is having in public schools with our Stay Sharp Drug Awareness, Education and Prevention Program.
This year’s Forum focused on three areas of involvement.
We can Collaborate with other organizations to take ownership of the current “problems” and to share communication, resources, leadership, responsibility, action, risk and reward. I attended workshops on how to develop strategic partnerships with policymakers and community leaders.
We need to be an Advocate. Local drug prevention coalitions can be effective in changing policy. We need to keep issues in front of government leaders and to stand up against harmful legislation. At the CADCA Forum we learned how to be effective coalitions in gathering and judiciously spending political capital to reduce alcohol and other drug use and misuse.
We should Innovate and implement comprehensive strategies to address local conditions, include evidence-based practices and develop solutions in response to emerging trends.
I have found a warm and open reception from federal leaders. They express interest in what Teen Challenge is doing, and they welcome more interaction. The door is open for faith-based organizations to have an influence on and against substance abuse legislation. Teen Challenge needs to participate in local and state events. See the SAMHSA Recovery Month article for more information on how your center can become actively involved.
Teen Challenge, as a member of CADCA, receives regular studies and news releases on use and addictions of substances both legal and illegal, how American use and views of use are changing, and government rulings and laws enacted and/or needed. Click here www.cadca.org to read the newly released study that found “1 in 5 Teens Drive while Under Marijuana’s Influence”. (CADCA, Resources & Research, Issues: Drunk/Impaired Driving; Coalition Resources: Data Analysis: February 23, 2012)