“You are not going out with that boy unless his parents are driving and that's that. I'm not just Spitting Grits here, young lady!”

. . . My father, John Thomas Cravey, USAF, to me in 1956.

Dear Editor

Last month I wrote a letter to the editor of the Tuscaloosa News, which the paper ran December 31. It follows:

We must all join and become the anti-drug

The facts about drug use among Tuscaloosa County youth make it clear that it will take more than parents alone to act as the Anti-Drug. It will take our entire Village, including media professionals, as well as representatives from many sectors of this county, working together to make a difference. Start by going to http://www.pridetuscaloosa.com. You’ll find stats, as well as information about an organization that needs support in reversing these numbers -- the Tuscaloosa County Drug Free Community Coalition. Scroll down to the link for surveys on the left side. Here’s some of what you’ll find:

l The average age of first use of alcohol is eleven, that’s 11, before junior high/middle school and well before their brains have finished developing.

l Drug and alcohol use among Tuscaloosa County’s youth is shockingly above the national average just about in every category.

l As use of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana falls in the years before the 12th grade, use of all other drugs – from cocaine to heroin to hallucinogens to ecstasy to meth – rises.

l While national figures on use of prescriptions drugs out of the family medicine cabinet are yet sparse, figures for use among Tuscaloosa County youth are HIGH, about 25 percent of those surveyed.

l Our youth are primarily participating in illegal use of substances on the weekends in homes.

The Tuscaloosa News has an opportunity to take a leadership role NOW, by re-thinking its glorification of bar hopping in the Friday Tusk section of the paper. It’s where we all get our options, times, and places for things to do. There sure aren’t pictures of anyone going to the opera; only pictures of nice-looking young people, maybe 21, maybe with great fake IDs, whom the Tuscaloosa youth can admire.

So listen up, parents, grandparents, educational professionals, business people, media personnel, social workers, psychologists, helping/care-giving professionals: There’s an organization where we can all put our energy – the Tuscaloosa County Drug Free Community Coalition. Read about it at www.pridetuscaloosa.com. Maybe the News can cover the next meeting, February 1, 2011, 7 p.m., Tuscaloosa County Extension Office auditorium in the Courthouse Annex downtown.

Joanna Hutt, advisory board member, A Woman’s Place, and new member of the Tuscaloosa County Drug Free Community Coalition

Drug Free Community Coalitions

The Tuscaloosa County Drug Free Community Coalition is one of many such coalitions in the country – either already established or seeking the grant that will support the creation – that were created from the Drug Free Communities Support Program, created in 1997.

Information about funding provides deadlines:

The DFC Program follows a similar cycle each year. ONDCP along with our program partners at SAMHSA anticipate releasing the 2011 DFC Request for Applications (RFA) in January of 2011 with applications will due in March 2011. The DFC Mentoring RFA will likely be released in February of 2011 with applications due in April of 2011. New grant awards for both will be announced in late August.

The relatively large grants available to coalitions require specific conditions to be met and substantial information to be supplied. Information is here. The first step is to gather facts and statistics, which Tuscaloosa outlines on its PRIDE site. The statistical information from my community was astonishing, even to me, the mother of a drug addicted daughter and advisory board member of A Woman’s Place, a 28-day residential drug treatment facility.

I look forward to working with Tuscaloosa’s Drug Free Community Coalition, which is in the early stages and aiming to apply for the first grant.

It’s a serious effort with serious potential to do some good in the local community.

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