By Jon King /

A local substance abuse coalition has been recognized as one of the most effective in the nation.

The Livingston County Community Alliance (LCCA) was named as one of the top 10 coalitions in the country for reducing past 30-day youth substance use. The LCCA is a county-wide, anti-drug coalition that aims to unite the Livingston County community to reduce and prevent youth substance use. According to a press release from the group, they were among ten coalitions nationally that documented reductions in youth substance use across all middle and high school grade levels and all substances, including alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and prescription drugs.

These coalitions went through a rigorous training on The Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) model of Community Change. They implemented a comprehensive strategy that encompassed CADCA’s 7 Strategies for Community Change. The 7 strategies and examples of the LCCA’s work:

1. Providing information:
o Developed and held a Youth PhotoVoice project for county members to see what youth had to say about substance use and the importance of making educated choices
o Produced and distributed educational videos to raise awareness of underage drinking, prescription medication misuse and abuse, youth marijuana use and why youth choose not to use
o Developed MOST Social Norming Campaign, promoting the message that MOST Livingston County youth do not use drugs or alcohol

2. Building skills
o Held On Premise TIPS Training, responsible beverage service training
o Hosted Drugs 101 to educate parents on how to identify drug paraphernalia and how to talk to their youth about abstaining from substance use
o Provided education to local faith communities to promote responsible medicine disposal via the Big Red Barrel

3. Providing support
o Supported community collaboration by attending meetings and events of groups whose objectives include building protective factors and reducing drug misuse and abuse such as Project Lazarus, and Wake Up Livingston

4. Enhancing access/reducing barriers
o Developed and implemented Big Red Barrel Medicine Disposal events and locations in all police departments and the jail.

5. Changing consequences (incentives/disincentives)
o Alcohol Compliance Checks
o Visited retailers that have either passed or failed their compliance checks with resources and TIPS training

6. Change physical design
o Implemented project Sticker Shock

7. Modify and change policies
o Changed school policies to include proper medication disposal at the end of the school year

CADCA developed new case studies that featured the best-of-the-best coalitions. The Livingston County Community Alliance was one of those selected. LCCA officials say Livingston County’s outcome data will be shared with members of Congress, both in Michigan and in other states, and add that group members should feel a tremendous sense of honor and pride in their coalition’s selection as a case study and will continue to work on preventing and reducing youth substance use.

Coalition Coordinator Megan Palmer said they invite community members to join them at their monthly meetings, visit their Facebook page, or their website, and get involved.