Utah’s community approach to drug prevention wins national award

Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, the nation’s leading substance abuse prevention organization, honored the state of Utah, Utah Department of Human Services and Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health with the 2017 Outstanding State Member Award for significant efforts in community-based drug prevention coalitions to create safe, healthy and drug-free communities.

Among Utah’s achievements to receive the award were its policy and mission focus in prevention as part of the state’s strategy to combat substance abuse. Utah worked closely with CADCA to bring the National Coalition Training Academy and the Drug Enforcement Agency’s 360 collective events to the state. Trainings have been held across the state for adults and youth to run effective coalitions. Coalitions include members like local citizens, elected officials, educators, law enforcement, judges and service professionals who lead actions specific to their community issues, culture and needs. This strategy has helped to further spread the message of prevention across the state.

DSAMH Director Doug Thomas has actively promoted local coalitions stating, “The best prevention possible is addressing prevention needs from multiple angles. The most effective way to address the opioid and suicide crisis we have in Utah is to reduce the risk factors that lead to these devastating outcomes. We can prevent problems from beginning by establishing neighborhood and community coalitions and following prevention models that assess local needs and use effective programs.”

Sen. John Curtis presented the award to state leaders and recognized Utah’s commitment to effective substance abuse prevention programs. “The Division has provided blue ribbon training and technical assistance to coalitions throughout Utah,” said Curtis. “Substance abuse has local risk factors, which are best addressed by local efforts.”

CADCA Chairman and CEO General Arthur T. Dean acknowledged Utah’s efforts, saying, “We are very fortunate to have partners like the state of Utah, Department of Human Services and Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health who understand the importance of community-based drug prevention and support the efforts of local community anti-drug coalitions in their state. Together, we can help create safer and healthier communities for all people.”