September 2018 Newsletter
Highlights & Annoucements
September is Recovery Month - Join us for a Recovery Celebration Wednesday, September 26th!

In honor of Recovery Month, this year's Recovery Celebration will be held on Wednesday, September 26th from 4pm-7pm at the Lee Center, located at 1108 Jefferson Street. This year's theme is Invest in Health, Home, Purpose, and Community. Recovery Month aims to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders and celebrate the people who recover. For more information, please contact Svandis Geirsdottir at

Across the country, reports show that teen cigarette use is down. Nationwide, only 11 percent of high school students reported cigarette use, and in Alexandria that number is lower. Despite increases in reported teen e-cigarette use in Alexandria, and growing national concern about this issue, the 2016 Youth Risk Behavior Survey reports that teen cigarette use in Alexandria has gone down 12%, a trend to get behind. 

Smoking, especially among high school students, can be very dangerous as it permanently affects brain health. Alexandrians can help keep teen smoking down by:
  • Always checking IDs at stores. 
  • Setting family expectations about tobacco use.
  • Providing teens with safe and substance-free spaces to have fun!
Help Improve Health in Alexandria!

Take three minutes to improve well-being in our City! The Alexandria Health Department is working with community partners to review factors that impact health in Alexandria -- this project is the foundation for a plan to address major health issues. Please take this three-minute survey  to drive the conversation on our City's health. Then, join the Alexandria Health Department to discuss the results during a community breakfast meeting on Saturday, November 3rd from 9:30 - 11:30 AM at George Washington Middle School. Questions? Contact

FDA Increases E-cigarette Enforcement Measures

U.S. Health and Human Services  Secretary Alex M. Azar II recently praised the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its enforcement efforts related to youth e-cigarette sales. Over the summer, the FDA cracked down on over 1,300 retailers who illegally sold the JUUL, and other brands of e-cigarettes, to minors. 

"No child should be using any tobacco or nicotine-containing product. We commend the FDA for the critical, immediate and historic action to address the sale and marketing of these products to kids, while it examines additional aggressive steps to stem the troubling trend of their use among youth," said Azar.

The FDA announced on September 13th, 2018 that it would give e-cigarette companies 60 days to share how they plan to keep their products out of young people's reach. The FDA has also said it will continue to increase enforcement of e-cigarette sales to minors.  Federal law prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes to people younger than 18.

Each month, SAPCA highlights one key fact about substance 
use. This month we discuss one simple but powerful way to help individuals who are affected directly or indirectly by addiction: word choice.

"Research suggests a person suffering from a substance use disorder is in fact dealing with a chronic brain disorder...therefore, this type of chronic brain disorder should be viewed and treated just as we do mental health disorders or other medical conditions," explains Recovery Coach Carly Benson.

With this in mind, it is important to be conscious about the language we are using when discussing addiction as it can both "support a path to recovery or dissuade it." 

The Office of National Drug Control Policy encourages individuals to use the terms below, which are more sensitive to people who face addiction:
  • Substance use disorder
  • Person with substance use disorder
  • Person in recovery
  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
What are some words to avoid? 

"Words such as 'addict,' 'junkie,' 'crack head' or 'druggie' display judgment, shame and blame. Even the words 'abuse' or 'habit' can suggest choice over the reality of the disease and need for medical treatment," says Benson.

In honor of Recovery Month, I encourage you to remind yourself and others that  addiction is a disease, not a moral failure, and that language matters. 

Have an idea for our next #FactOfTheMonth ? Email Emma Beall at
Upcoming Community Events

Titan Takeover Approaches!

The next Titan Takeover will be this Friday, September 28th from 7pm - 10pm at Leonard Armstrong Recreation Center (25 W Reed Avenue). This free event is open to all Alexandria high school students and will feature food, raffles and giveaways, a DJ, dancing, and a photo booth.  To RSVP, text "TITAN" to 30644 by September 26 or email

Help us spread the word about this awesome event!

Project Sticker Shock 2018

Please show your support for Project Sticker Shock at the press conference to kick-off this event on Saturday, October 20th! The press conference will begin at 10am at the Community Services Board (720 N. Saint Asaph Street).

Each year during Project Sticker Shock, teams of youth and adults from the City of Alexandria "shock" purchasers of alcohol by placing bright red warning stickers on multi-packs of beer, wine coolers and other alcohol products in Alexandria. Research data show that it is easy for youth to obtain alcohol. National polls report that youth ages 13 and older say it is easy to get alcohol from adults, sometimes from their own parents who themselves may have drinking problems. In a recent Alexandria survey, almost 40 percent of high school seniors reported they drank alcohol in the past 30 days.

Sticker Shock is a youth-led initiative designed to educate adults who might be tempted to purchase alcohol legally and provide it to minors. The stickers contain warnings about the serious penalties for furnishing alcohol to minors. In Virginia, providing alcohol to a minor is a Class 1 misdemeanor, with a punishment of up to $2,500 and up to 12 months in jail, or both. In addition, to these penalties, a person found guilty of this offense shall have his or her license to operate a motor vehicle suspended for a period of not more than one year.
Get Ready for our Fall Drug Take Back Day!

Our next Drug Take Back Day will happen on Saturday, October 27th from 10am - 2pm! Individuals can drop off unused and expired medication at the following locations:
  • Alexandria Police Department HQ (3600 Wheeler Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22304) 
  • Alexandria Fire Department (Fire Station 210, 5255 Eisenhower Avenue, Alexandria VA, 22304)
  • First Baptist Church of Alexandria (2923 King Street, Alexandria VA, 22302)
  • The Neighborhood Pharmacy of Del Ray (2204 Mt. Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA, 22301) 
Can't make it to Drug Take Back Day? There is a permanent medication drop box located at the Neighborhood Pharmacy of Del Ray that is open during the following times: 
  • Monday - Friday: 9am-7pm
  • Saturday: 9am-2pm
  • Sunday; 10am-1pm

Alexandria Teen Fall Poetry Project

Alexandria Teens - Get creative and share your voice!  A new Alexandria Teen Fall Poetry Project kicks off with a series of Poetry Workshops at the Duncan Library, 2501 Commonwealth Ave.  Young poets are invited to fall into the art and craft of poetry in a fun, creative and supportive environment.   Wendi Kaplan, Poet Laureate, City of Alexandria will facilitate the workshops on the following Saturdays September 29 and October 13 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.   All teens are welcome - bring a friend!   Workshop attendees will be entered in a random drawing for small prizes.  Must be present to win. 

Create then share!  A new Fall Alexandria Teen Poetry Circle will be established to showcase the literary talents of Alexandria's teens.  Launching on Saturday, September 29, submission deadline for consideration in the Fall Alexandria Teen Poetry Circle is October 30, 2018.  Selected poets for the Teen Poetry Circle will be informed in November.  For additional information, visit, search Poet Laureate Program. 

The Poetry Workshops and Poetry Circle are part of a Girls Scouts' Gold Award Positive Poetry project in collaboration with the Alexandria City Office of the Arts and the Alexandria City Public Library Duncan Library branch.

For additional information about the Office of the Arts' programs and services contact Cheryl Anne Colton at 703.746.5565, or visit the Office of the Arts at
Interested in getting involved with SAPCA?
Contact Us:
Emma Beall, SAPCA Coordinator
Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition of Alexandria 
123 N Pitt St, Suite 225
Alexandria, VA 22314
O: 703.746.3670 
C: 571.302.1022