The Athens County Prosecutor’s Office is taking a proactive approach to preventing and reducing alcohol and drug abuse among adolescents.
Athens County Prosecuting Attorney Keller Blackburn is implementing Preventure, a school-based program reviewed and approved by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Registry for evidence based programs & practices.
“This is an exciting program designed to start early with teens and pre-teens so we can give them the skills they need to manage their moods, behaviors and impulses in a safe and supervised manner,” Blackburn stated.
He went on to say, “The goal is to reduce drinking rates by 40 to 60 percent, reduce binge drinking rates by 50 percent, delay the onset of drinking and binge drinking and reduce illicit drug use rates by 30 to 80 percent. We also believe this program will help reduce the risk for alcohol related problems and other mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and general conduct problems.”
Preventure is a personality targeted intervention for prevention of substance abuse and mental health problems created by a professor at the University of Montreal. It was developed to identify how various personality types can influence a juvenile’s risk for drug misuse.
According to Blackburn, all school districts in Athens County have been contacted to explain the Preventure program. Multi day training sessions are planned and school districts including Athens, Alexander, Nelsonville-York and Trimble already have staff training scheduled.
Staff members from participating school districts as well as staff from Blackburn’s office will become certified to implement a Substance Abuse Risk Profile Survey which determines possible high risk personality traits. They will learn how they can work with students on interventions derived from cognitive behavior therapy techniques and motivational enhancement therapy. The interventions have shown a reduction in binge drinking, frequent drug use and alcohol related problems. The goal is to create a customized plan based on each adolescent’s direct personality needs.
The funds to pay for this program come from the Prosecutor’s Law Enforcement Drug Trust Fund(LETF). These funds come from the seizure of forfeited cash and assets purchased with illegal money.
According to Becky Filar, the Director of Community Justice at the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office, the office obtains funding from grants, drug fines and criminal forfeitures. So far in 2018, the prosecutor’s office has given approximately 50% of funds forfeited to the office on prevention and treatment programs.
The Law Enforcement Trust Fund requires that the written internal control policy allow for ten percent of the proceed from the first $100,000 of forfeited property to go to community prevention education programs each year.