Drug Free Communities Program Hopes to Bring Awareness to Community Leaders

Director Gil Kerlikowske with the National Drug Control Policy office recently announced a new program to offer support to 87 communities through 20 new Drug Free Community (DFC) grants throughout the country. The $12.3 million program is in addition to the already existing $76 million in grants from the DFC Mentoring Continuation Coalition, which provides needed support to stop substance abuse among youth.

Kerlikowske believes the most influential tool we have to help reduce our nation’s drug epidemic is to prevent it before it starts. He feels that each dollar invested in drug education and prevention programs will save us $10 in related costs for substance abuse treatment, according to an article in Medical News Today.

The program from DFC provides grants up to $625,000 over a five-year period to those community coalitions facilitating adult and youth involvement on the community level along with local prevention efforts against youth drug use. Recent data proves that communities that have received this type of funding have seen decreases in the past 30 years that are significant in alcohol, marijuana and tobacco use among teenagers.

The new grantees this year were selected from over 400 applicants by a competitive and peer-reviewed selection process. In order to qualify for such a grant you must have a six-month history of collaboration on youth substance abuse initiatives and have representatives from a dozen required sectors in your community.

Pamela S. Hyde, Administrator for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, says the program is effective due to its focus on community-based methods to promote safe, healthy environments for families to raise children free of substance abuse.