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SAPCA Members,  
We need your help at our quarterly meeting. Based on Developmental Assets survey data and our community assessment, we've crafted several new local conditions that address the risky behaviors related to alcohol and marijuana use that we're seeing at the middle schools and Minnie Howard. We need your input to develop strategies to address these problems. 
The meeting will be on Wednesday April 29, 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Minnie Howard in the library, 3801 W. Braddock Road. RSVP to me at



* SAPCA and ATI Members Conduct wreckED at GW and TC
* Kick Butts Day Kick Off (3/18)
* Alcohol Awareness Month Activities
* Help Fight Proposed Cut to the Drug-Free Communities Program
* New Alexandria Report Identifies Five Key Issues For the Community
* Register for ONDCP Webinar on Synthetic Drugs (4/9)
* Parents Get Advice on Talking to Their Teens About Marijuana With New Toolkit
* Early Results on Marijuana Extract for Treating Severe Epilepsy Mixed
* Putting Alcohol Ignition Interlocks in New Cars Could Prevent Many Deaths: Study


SAPCA and ATI Members Conduct wrecked at GW and TC  



Andrea Melara, Above the Influence (ATI) Club President, Shelly Morgan, SAPCA Vice-Chair and Noraine presented wreckED to over 600 George Washington Middle School and T.C. Williams students. The Partnership at's wreckED is a program that challenges teens to think more about their own and their friends' behavior regarding alcohol and other drugs, and to consider the consequences of getting involved. The program focuses on alcohol, marijuana and prescription drugs.


If you work with youth and would like to host a wreckED presentation, contact Noraine at


 Kick Butts Day Kick Off (3/18)


from l-r: Raheem Ruffin, Andrea Melara, Rebeca Molina, Deputy Valarie Wright, Rose Anne Valderamma


On Wednesday March 18, SAPCA celebrated Kick Butts Day, an annual day of activism, sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, that empowers youth to take action against tobacco use. More than 2,000 events are held around the country mobilizing youth to raise awareness about the problems of tobacco use in schools and the community.


On Kick Butts Day this year, SAPCA, in partnership with the Campagna Center's Building Better Futures Program, Jefferson Houston's 21st Century Community Learning Center and the Alexandria Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities, supported the Food and Drug Administration's Break the Chain campaign by engaging over 30 Alexandria youth in ensuring that tobacco vendors are checking photo IDs. The teens visited over 55 retailers in the City.


Mayor Euille kicked off the event by reminding students about the amount of money tobacco companies spend to get people their age addicted. Then Chief Cook described how cigarettes impacted his life; both of his parents smoked. The event was emceed by T.C. Williams Students, Abby Hamilton and Andrea Melara.


Check out the Kick Butts Day album on Facebook.


Alcohol Awareness Month Activities


Join SAPCA in celebrating Alcohol Awareness Month in April.

The ATI Club will have information tables with fun games, and will distribute red ribbons, at Minnie Howard and T.C Williams during lunch times throughout the month.



Help Fight Proposed Cut to the Drug-Free Communities Program



In his FY 2016 budget request, the President recommended only $85.7 million for the Drug-Free Communities (DFC) program. This is a $7.8 million cut from the $93.5 million level appropriated in FY 2015. The President's FY 2016 budget request would support only 52 new grants. If the program is funded at last year's level of $93.5 million, 96 new grants would be funded. Given that funding for substance abuse prevention programs has been cut by 48% since FY 2005, it is critical that the DFC program, one of the few remaining bona fide substance abuse prevention programs, be funded at $93.5 million in FY 2016.


A "Dear Colleague" letter is currently circulating in both the House, sponsored by Representatives Fitzpatrick and Levin, and the Senate, sponsored by Senators Grassley and Leahy, in support of funding the DFC program at the highest possible level.


If you would like to support the DFC program, you can use CADCA's CapWiz system to fax the sample letter to our members of Congress.   The more letters the members of our congressional delegation receive on this issue, the more likely they are to support funding this program at $93.5 million.


CADCA's fax system allows you to automatically fax CADCA's sample letter on this issue to our legislators from CADCA's website.  To send faxes to your legislators, click here.


 If you would like to personalize your letter with examples from our community, please email for a MS Word version of the sample letter.





 The Alexandria Council of Human Service Organizations (ACHSO) released a needs assessment report this week identifying 5 Key Issues affecting the quality of our human services networks in the City. Those issues include Affordable Housing, Early Intervention Services for Youth, The Information Gap, The Eligibility Gap and Nonprofit Advocacy.  Meeting Needs Today provides a snapshot of the state of Alexandria's human services system - including services, service gaps and service improvements - since the last needs assessment in 2008. The report is available online at




Register for ONDCP Webinar on Synthetic Drugs ( 4/9)


The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) will host a webinar on April 8 from 1-2 p.m. about the dangers of synthetic drugs like "Spice" and "Bath Salts." The webinar will also provide details on federal and local efforts to address this problem.    


 Click here to register for the webinar.



As more states legalize the recreational use of marijuana, parents are finding it more challenging to talk to their teens about drug use. A new resource for parents, called the Marijuana Talk Kit takes this new landscape into account. It provides specific examples for starting conversations and answering teens' questions about marijuana. The free resource was released by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.


The Talk Kit explains that although marijuana is legal in some states, it does not change the fact that all mind-altering substances - including marijuana - are harmful for the still-developing teen brain. Parents will be more effective in communicating with their teen if they use proven techniques to engage them in conversation, instead of simply lecturing them.


For instance, if your teen shows interest in using marijuana, instead of telling them not to do it, you first want to remain calm and be curious about why they are interested in using a substance and what it may interfere with.  You could ask them, "What is it about marijuana that makes you want to use it? What are some things you enjoy doing that marijuana might get in the way of?" You could also add, "At your age, I would much rather you find healthy ways to cope with difficult feelings and situations than turn to drugs. Can we brainstorm other activities you would be interested participating in?" This shows concern, asks their permission and promotes collaboration in thinking through healthy alternatives, like music, reading or sports.


The Kit provides examples of difficult questions that teens can throw at parents, such as "Would you rather I drink alcohol? Weed is so much safer." A parent could respond by asking, "What is going on in your life that makes you feel like you want to do either?," or "Honestly, I don't want you to be doing anything that can harm you - whether that's smoking pot, cigarettes, drinking or behaving recklessly. I'm interested in knowing why you think weed is safer than alcohol." Reminding your teen that you care deeply about his health and well-being, and expressing genuine curiosity about his thought process, is going to help him open up.





Initial results on studies evaluating the effectiveness of the marijuana extract cannabidiol (CBD) for treating severe epilepsy in children are mixed, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Some parents consider CBD to be a wonder drug for treating their children's severe epilepsy, the article notes. A dozen states have legalized CBD in the past year, and an additional nine states are considering legislation to make the substance legal. Most of the laws and bills allow CBD only to treat severe forms of epilepsy. CBD does not generate a high. It is available in an oil form that can be taken orally.


Some families of children with seizures, who call themselves "marijuana refugees," have moved to Colorado to gain access to CBD. Studies have found some children with seizures appear to improve after taking CBD, but others do not respond, or even get worse.


The substance is also being studied as a potential treatment for schizophrenia, anxiety and other conditions.

"We don't have enough data at this point to recommend marijuana products for families," said Kevin Chapman, a neurologist at Children's Hospital Colorado, who co-authored a study released at an American Epilepsy Society meeting in December. His study included 75 children who took CBD, and found in 33 percent, seizures decreased by more than half. Chapman found 44 percent of children experienced adverse effects after taking CBD, including increased seizures.

Some researchers are concerned that states are passing laws without enough scientific data.




If all new cars had devices that prevent drunk drivers from starting the engine, an estimated 85 percent of alcohol-related deaths could be prevented in the United States, a new study concludes.


The devices, called alcohol ignition interlocks, could prevent more than 59,000 crash fatalities and more than 1.25 million non-fatal injuries, according to the University of Michigan researchers.

The findings appear in the American Journal of Public Health.

"Alcohol interlocks are used very effectively in all 50 states as a component of sentencing or as a condition for having a license reinstated after DUIs, but this only works for the drunk drivers caught by police and it doesn't catch the people who choose to drive without a license to avoid having the interlock installed," said lead author Dr. Patrick Carter.


He said most drunk drivers make about 80 trips under the influence of alcohol before they are stopped for a DUI. "If we decided that every new car should have an alcohol ignition interlock that's seamless to use for the driver and doesn't take any time or effort, we suddenly have a way to significantly reduce fatalities and injuries that doesn't rely solely on police," he told Reuters.


The study assumed it would take 15 years for older cars to be replaced with new vehicles that required interlock devices, which detect blood-alcohol levels. The devices prevent drivers above a certain threshold from starting the vehicle.


While all age groups would suffer fewer deaths and injuries if they used the interlock devices, the youngest drivers would benefit the most, the study found. Among drivers ages 21 to 29 years, 481,000 deaths and injuries could be prevented. Among drivers under 21, almost 195,000 deaths and injuries could be avoided.




Noraine Buttar, MPH
421 King St
Alexandria, VA 22314
703.746.3670 (office)
703.887.8812 (mobile)