Past Releases: Call to Protect Substance Abuse Prevention in Schools
Contact Communications@thenationalcouncil.org or 202.684.7457
Washington DC (July 27, 2009)—The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare (National Council) is urging Congress to stop a proposal to eliminate funding for the Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities (SDFSC) State Grants program.
The SDFSC State Grants program has provided drug prevention education to than 37 million youth and helped to achieve a 17 percent decline in youth drug use nationwide. However, the House of Representatives eliminated $294.8 million funding for the program when it voted on Friday, July 24 to approve the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education FY2010 appropriations bill.
“We’re surprised that policymakers would consider eliminating a well-established prevention program with proven outcomes,” said Linda Rosenberg, President and CEO of the National Council. “Eliminating the program will only add to our nation’s already tremendous economic and social burden of untreated addiction disorders.”
On July 21, 2009, the National Council cosponsored a briefing “How and Why Community-Based Prevention of Alcohol and Drug Problems Work” hosted by the Congressional Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus. Experts testified that the SDFSC State Grants program has achieved impressive results by building effective school, community and media infrastructures to deal with youth drug use and underage drinking. The Caucus is co-chaired by Representatives Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and John Sullivan (R-OK). Vice co-chairs are Representatives Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) and Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH).
Experts at the briefing emphasized the importance of preventing or delaying the age of onset of substance abuse, as persons who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin drinking at age 21 or later.
“For less than a dollar a month, the Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities State Grants program helps to educate children about the dangers of substance abuse. In the long term, programs like this help us save billions that we’d spend in treating serious addiction disorders or in the costs we’d incur through poor health outcomes, emergency room visits, lost productivity, and crime resulting from untreated addictions,” said Alexa Eggleston, Director of Public Policy at the National Council.
Funding for the SDFSC State Grants program acts as a bedrock, helping communities leverage the nominal grants they receive to garner additional resources. Elimination of the SDFSC State Grants program would dismantle the drug and violence prevention infrastructure that is currently in place, and leave communities without any school-based representation in efforts to deal with drug use and violence among youth.
The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) association of 1,600 behavioral healthcare organizations that provide treatment and rehabilitation for mental illnesses and addictions disorders to nearly six million adults, children and families in communities across the country. The National Council and its members bear testimony to the fact that medical, social, psychological and rehabilitation services offered in community settings help people with mental illnesses and addiction disorders recover and lead productive lives.