October was Substance Use Disorder Prevention Month. In observance, the Coalition partnered with the Edwards Middle School for the second year in a row to run a series of lesso
ns and assemblies
Throughout the month, a photo project created by Turn it Around was on display at the Edwards. The
photos, taken by Turn it Around members, depicted
healthier ways of dealing with stress than using drugs and alcohol
Early in the month, Cassandra Tavaras of MGH's Center for Community Health Improvement's
Evaluations Team presented to school faculty about substance use and Charlestown middle school students, with a specific f
ocus on Edwards students.
The data came from MGH's Youth Risk Behavior
Surveys (YRBS) that were administered at both middle schools last winter.
After learning more about their students' exposure to drugs and alcohol, teachers administered a pre-test created by the Coalition in order to assess student knowledge and opinions regarding drug use and addiction.
Faculty then led two half hour lesson plans. The first centered around "myth vs. reality" -- questions about drug use, some basic background information about addiction, and what drugs do to a person's body.
For the second lesson, students read a variety of biographies written by people in recovery. The goal was to reduce the stigma often associated with addiction.
Students also learned about some environmental factors that can help to reduce the risk of addiction and drug use, and some that may increase them.
Four assemblies were held during the week following the lessons. The
hour long assemblies were facilitated by four people in recovery, and an Edward
s teacher who has dealt with substance use disorders in her family.
he speakers were well received, with students asking many questions and engaging in a lively dialogue.
More than two thirds of the students raised their hands when asked if they knew someone who was addicted to drugs or alcohol.
Students have now completed a post-test that will be compared to the pre-tests to see if we have accomplished our goals of educating and decreasing the stigma around substance use disorders.
To learn more, don't hesitate to reach out to our Prevention Program Coordinator,