DCHYC updated the community needs assessment in October 2018 to determine the factors that are both driving and reducing youth substance abuse in Douglas County through quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis. DCHYC identified and prioritized risk and protective factors and selected evidence-based primary prevention environmental strategies to decrease those risk factors and increase the protective factors. Primary prevention is defined as the effort to prevent the use or delay initial onset of alcohol and other drug use. In addition, environmental strategies seek to change and establish community standards, norms, codes, and attitudes. The change influences the incidence and prevalence of alcohol and drug abuse in the general youth population.
From the community needs assessment finding, vaping/electronic smoking devices, alcohol and marijuana are the most commonly used substances among high school aged youth in Douglas County. Prescription drugs were identified as the least commonly used substance among middle and high school aged students in Douglas County.
The DCHYC selected three evidence-based strategies to reduce underage marijuana, alcohol, tobacco and prescription drug misuse and abuse. The strategies are:
- Reducing social and retail availability and access to substances through parental awareness and education
- Increasing parental involvement though Speak Now Colorado messaging focused at parents and guardians in Douglas County
- Increasing student attachments to school and positive school culture through school district discipline policy reform for alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs (ATOD) school offenses, to include alternatives to suspensions programs
The Douglas County Healthy Youth Coalition is committed to reducing underage drinking, underage marijuana use, prescription drug misuse and abuse, and tobacco use among youth ages 12-25 in Douglas County.