New Philadelphia, Ohio - A large federal grant will support the efforts of the Tuscarawas County Anti-Drug Coalition over the next five years.
Coordinator Jodi Salvo says the coalition learned in August that it had been awarded a $625,000 Drug-Free Communities Grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Salvo explains that the grant will be awarded in five yearly installments of $125,000 and will be used to support campaigns related to two major areas of focus for the coalition: underage marijuana use and prescription drug misuse.
“Some of the work that we’re going to be doing will be engaging our community on how do we dispose of unwanted, unused medications; how do we help parents have conversations with students about substances; how do we create awareness and provide education on youth on the harms, the potential of addiction on prescription medications,” she explains. “Some will be furthering what’s already going on, and the other will be just increasing our reach within the community.”
With youth, Salvo says there is often a disconnect when it comes to prescription drugs and marijuana in particular.
“Youth might feel that because it’s a prescription drug it’s safer than, say, an illicit drug, so there’s definitely some work to be done there,” she says.
With marijuana, Salvo says the perception of harm among youth is very low right now, a trend that she attributes to the state’s legalization of the drug for medicinal purposes.
“I’d say across the nation, so we have some definite work to educate adults and youth on the impacts of marijuana use,” she says. “We have to create education and awareness of the potential of marijuana use on a developing brain.”
Salvo says the coalition plans to use the money for promotional activities specifically related to the two focus areas. The grant cannot be used for programming costs.
“It will allow us to subcontract with media professionals, strengthen campaigns, just have a bigger impact on the community as a whole,” she says. “You’ll definitely see more of the Tuscarawas County Anti-Drug Coalition in the community and in the media.”
She adds that other communities that have received the grant have seen a proven 20 percent decrease in substance use rates. “It is a difference-maker with communities that receive this grant.”
Stacey Carmany, Tusco TV