The Impact Norwood Substance Use Prevention Coalition believes in Inspiring Meaningful Prevention through Action (IMPACTion). We use a community approach to promote a drug-free and healthy Norwood through education, awareness, prevention and action. Our group is made up of individuals who have loved ones affected by substance use or just concerned citizens who want to do what they can to prevent youth substance use.
The coalition started in 2014 as a result of Police Chief William Brooks seeing the toll that underage substance use was having on the community, and worked with Sigalle Reiss, the Health Director, to create the coalition. They both knew that in order for the coalition to have long-lasting, effective change, all parts of the community needed to be at the table. In July 2014 the coalition held its first meeting, and soon members from all sectors of the community—from schools to law enforcement—were participating. In 2017 the coalition applied for and received the Drug Free Communities grant for 1.25 million dollars over 10 years. Through this grant the coalition will be able to build the coalition’s capacity to ensure sustainability for years to come, enabling them to implement programs into the community to reduce youth substance use.
Over the next few years of the grant Impact Norwood will be focusing on preventing and reducing underage alcohol and recreational marijuana use. Through data the coalition has gathered we know that underage use of these two substances is a concern for our community and something that needs to be addressed. Research has shown that 9 out of 10 people who have a substance use issue as adults started a substance before age 18. The members of Impact Norwood want to ensure that the youth in our community are safe and healthy today to avoid more difficult substance use problems—such as alcoholism, opiate addiction, and other health related issues—later in life.
Impact Norwood understands that there is no one solution to preventing and reducing youth substance use—it has to be multi-pronged, and one sector alone can’t make all the necessary change. But, our coalition does believe that prevention can be achieved by doing the following:
· Educating people about legal, behavioral and physical consequences of youth substance use
· Raising Awareness about youth substance use and how it can impact a community
· Promoting positive activities as alternatives to using substances
· Strengthening adult and youth relationships to keep lines of communication open
Members of Impact Norwood do this work for a number of personal reasons but at the root of our coalition lays a desire to ensure that future generations living in our community do not have to go up against the current epidemic plaguing our country. Members believe in being proactive instead of reactive and understand that addiction is a non-discriminatory disease.
The coalition is always looking for members to join our group. We have multiple ways for people get involved—whether it’s attending our monthly meetings to share ideas, or participating on an as-needed basis to provide a certain skill. Whatever your motivation, skill set or availability, we want more members of this incredible community to join us in ending the addiction epidemic.