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Prevention is a great thing, but changing behavior is challenging, especially addictive behaviors and those that are targeted through marketing and manipulation of our environment. In a society that continually promotes alcohol and drug use at every level, the need to provide education on the dangers of alcohol and drug use and its effect on children has never been greater.
CASAC provides evidence-based prevention programs and services that have been scientifically tested and identified to be effective approaches in preventing problems related to alcohol and other drugs. Programs provide age-appropriate alcohol and other drug education, drug-resistance skills, personal self-management skills, social skills and health promoting habits. CASAC believes education on this critical threat needs to begin as early as possible in people’s lives. Properly educated, children and youth are much more likely to avoid such dangers.
While there are teens who may drink alcohol and use other drugs, underage substance use is not inevitable. Families, communities and individuals are not helpless to prevent it. In fact, research confirms the benefits of parents providing consistent rules and discipline, talking to children about alcohol and drugs, monitoring their activities, getting to know their friends, understanding their problems and concerns, and being involved in their learning. The importance of open communication between parents and their kids regarding the negative effects of alcohol and drug use play a significant role in decreasing the chances of those kids developing a substance use disorder.
CASAC has been providing prevention programming to schools throughout Chautauqua County since 1979. CASAC’s standard of excellence is well-known and the positive impact that our dedicated and professional staff has on our community is life-changing. All of CASAC’s Prevention Educators, hold a degree either in education, human services, or social services, and teach a combination of health information, general life skills and drug resistance skills.
Prevention efforts are especially important for young people. CASAC’s connections and collaborations helps bring awareness on current trends, technical guidance and prevention strategies. CASAC is privileged to work in the following school districts for the 2018-2019 school year: Bemus Point, Brocton, Cassadaga Valley, Chautauqua Lake, Clymer, City of Dunkirk, Falconer, Forestville, Fredonia, Frewsburg, City of Jamestown, Panama, Pine Valley, Ripley, Sherman, Silver Creek, Southwestern, and Westfield.
In addition to CASAC’s school programs, CASAC also collaborates with the YWCA of Westfield, YWCA of Jamestown, YMCA of Jamestown, Mental Health Association, Chautauqua Tapestry, G.A. Family Services, Boys & Girls Club of Northern Chautauqua County, Boys & Girls Club of Southern Chautauqua County, Salvation Army, Girl Scouts of WNY, Allegheny Highlands Council, Positive Choices Coalition, HOPE Chautauqua Coalition, and Addiction Response Ministry of Chautauqua. These are just to name a few.
Last year, over 6,270 children received CASAC’s evidence-based prevention programs and presentations. In addition to providing youth programs, we offer a variety of Parenting Classes, which can strengthen protective factors among young children by improving family communication skills, appropriate discipline styles, firm and consistent rule enforcement, and other family management approaches. At the same time, prevention strategies can address those most at risk with accurate information about alcohol and other drugs, articulate the potential consequences from their use, and offer activities and opportunities unrelated to drinking or drugging that may open new doors for youth who are still growing, learning, and expanding their horizons.
Much of CASAC’s work is through education and community awareness, but also through policy and environmental change. Communities, schools, and workplaces provide essential venues for reaching those who may be at risk with prevention messages and strategies.
The best prevention is early intervention, and if the progression of substance use and abuse can be stopped early in its course, then individual suffering and family disruption can be avoided. CASAC looks forward to continue its mission of building a safe and healthy environment by effectively educating the community on positive life choices. There is power in prevention!