With the drug and alcohol news cycle seemingly filled with stories of prescription drug addiction epidemics and celebrity overdoses, we decided to take a minute to appreciate the efforts of some organizations fighting against the use of drugs and alcohol. This list focuses on eight such organization in the Los Angeles area. Some of them you may recognize, some you might not, but they all deserve a tip-of-the-hat for their efforts to reduce drug and alcohol abuse in communities throughout L.A.
City of West Hollywood
An award-winning 2013 community study found 90% of residents in West Hollywood rated their quality of life as excellent or good. One reason given for the high rating was the access to social services in West Hollywood, including substance abuse and addiction recovery services.
While the City of West Hollywood doesn’t provide these services directly, it does help facilitate its residents’ access to these services by fostering an environment friendly to service based businesses. It also maintains a useful website full of listings for services in and around the West Hollywood community.
West Hollywood’s friendly and open culture toward social services, especially those with a clientele that often get stigmatized, goes a long way to developing a healthy environment for people needing help with substance abuse.
Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles
The Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles (JFS) provides social service to people of all religions. A pillar of the community for more than 160 years, JFS provides counseling, shelter and food to families in need. Its Addiction and Prevention Program (ADAP) provides education about substance abuse prevention to people across Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley.
Koreatown Youth & Community Center
Established in 1975, the Koreatown Youth and Community Center (KYCC) offers an array of services to support children and families with finances, housing, education, and health. One such service is drug and alcohol abuse prevention education.
The KYCC Prevention Education program aims to reduce drinking and marijuana use among the youth in Koreatown and the surrounding areas. This program uses the unique approach of what it calls “knock-and talks.” This approach involves community organizers visiting local businesses, establishing face-to-face connections, building partnerships, and enlisting the business owners to help reduce alcohol availability to minors through retail means.
Community organizers at KYCC also collaborate with the Los Angeles Unified School District to provide drug prevention workshops for youth and parents.
Los Angeles County Sheriff
The Sheriff’s Youth Foundation of Los Angeles County educates the children and parents of Los Angeles about the dangers of drug use and gang violence through a program it refers to as STAR, or Success Through Awareness and Resistance. The STAR Program operates several sub programs targeted at specific aspects of drug and violence prevention.
The Too Good for Drugs program offers a different curriculum based on the grade level of each student involved. The overarching theme of the curriculum is to use games, activities, and class discussions to teach students about the dangers, of drugs, how they might experience peer pressure to use drugs, and how to withstand that peer pressure to say, “no.”
Project ALERT engages 7th and 8th graders to help them stay away from drugs despite the modern, pro-drug attitude prevalent among teens.
Los Angeles Police Department
Along with the role of law enforcement, the LAPD also has several community outreach programs designed to make Los Angeles a better place to live. One of those programs is the Support Training Against Narcotic Dependency (STAND) program.
While most entries on this list focus on youth or the community at large, STAND targets drug abuse in the workplace. As part of the STAND program, the LAPD sends instructors to businesses in the community to teach employers and employees about how to recognize and address substance abuse. The program also points out how employees who abuse drugs negatively impact productivity.
STAND encourages a “no tolerance” for substance abuse workplace environment. STAND instructors also leave business leaders with the tools to establish substance abuse prevention programs of their own.
Montebello Unified School District
The Montebello Unified School District has a great community service program called D.A.T.E., which stands for Drug, Alcohol, Tobacco & Education program. This program includes three sub-programs: Too Good for Drugs, Project T.N.D. (Project Towards No Drug Abuse), and Keeping Safe from HIV. As you can see from the titles, two of these programs deal directly with drug prevention.
More than just preaching about saying no to drugs, the Too Good for Drugs program engages students from kindergarten through eighth grade to foster the growth of personality traits that lead away from drug use and reduce the development of traits that represent potential risk factors. Because this program is all about development, it uses a unique curriculum for each grade level.
Project T.N.D. uses similar principles as the Too Good for Drugs program, but with a more mature curriculum designed for 9th-12th graders. This program goes into more detail about the social effects of drug abuse. It helps students handle social situations by developing social skills, like active listening and self-control. These types of techniques can ease social tension and reduce the peer pressure that often leads to drug use.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is well known for its efforts to curb drinking and driving. It was established in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver. “The mission of Mothers Against Drunk Driving is to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking.” MADD continues working toward those goals in California.
MADD gives California a rating of four out of five stars for its efforts to reduce drunk driving. California gets full marks for its laws regarding sobriety checkpoints, child endangerment, no refusal, and administrative license revocation. MADD would give California’s drunk driving laws a full, five-star rating if all California counties required interlocks for all first time convicted drunk drivers. Only four California counties currently have such a law: Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Tulare. MADD continues to urge California lawmakers to adopt the law statewide.
In addition to encouraging the expansion of interlock laws, MADD also raises awareness and funds to fight drunk driving through several 5k events across California as part of its Walk Like MADD campaign. Upcoming walks include one in Los Angeles on October 1st and separate events in Orange County and San Diego, both on October 15th.
The Wall-Las Memorias Project
Dedicated to the health and wellness of the community, The Wall-Las Memorias Project provides advocacy and education to the Latino and LGBT population and other underserved groups. It emphasizes building a healthier community by developing leadership among the youth of the community.
As part of its community education, The Wall-Las Memorias has several programs to address the problem of substance abuse. Among those programs are drug and alcohol taskforces in the Greater East Los Angeles area (GELA) and Southeast Los Angeles (SELA).
These taskforces consist of parents, teachers, government officials, law enforcement, businesses, and other service organizations. Together they work to provide the community’s youth with training and skill development that have been proven to help students make better choices about their health. Through these youth-adult partnerships they aim to cultivate a community environment that prevents underage drinking and substance abuse. The taskforces also promote alternatives to schools’ zero-tolerance drug policies that result in suspensions, because those policies can easily backfire. Instead of helping the drug user to stop, these policies can stigmatize and ostracize him or her, which can in turn lead to increased drug use.
The Wall-Las Memorias Project also founded the ACT Now Against METH Coalition. Composed of the same type of community members as the GELA and SELA taskforces, this coalition organized a petition to get the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to declare high rates of meth use in the community a public health emergency. The petition was signed by over 10,000 community members. The petition resulted in the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors allocating more than $1.3 million to address the use of crystal meth in Los Angeles County.
The ACT Now Against METH Coalition continues to engage with the community and has expanded to fight against other substances of abuse in all of Los Angeles.
The efforts of these institutions deserve appreciation. To add your support, join one of these great organizations or find a similar one in your own community.
If you or a loved one have an addiction to alcohol, contact BLVD Treatment Centers. At BLVD Treatment Centers we custom tailor our recovery programs within the safe and nurturing confines of our rehab treatment centers. Located throughout California, in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and in Portland, OR, our mission is to assess the severity of your addiction to help you achieve true recovery within 30 days. Call us now at 1-866.582.9844.