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Prevention Coalition gearing up for new survey of teen alcohol, drug use

The Easthampton Prevention Coalition is gearing up for another community-wide survey of teen alcohol and drug use and attitudes toward family and school.

The latest round of the Prevention Needs Assessment Survey will be conducted in March and April by the Strategic Planning Initiative for Families and Youth, the coalition’s sponsoring agency. The nonprofit conducted similar surveys in 2007, 2009 and 2011.

In addition to questions about teen alcohol use, the survey will include new questions about marijuana, caffeine and energy drinks, food and fitness, prescription drugs and healthy and unhealthy relationships, according to Community Prevention Specialist Heather Warner.

The effort will try to identify “protective factors” at school and in the community through questions about teen attachments to school, family and neighborhood, she said.

“We want to find out not only where the trouble spots are but what’s going well,” Warner told the Easthampton School Committee earlier this week.

Data collected from the surveys is used to develop a strategic plan for community activities.

Among the projects the Easthampton coalition has launched in the three years since it was founded are youth recognition grants, town hall meetings on teen drug use, a “social norms” marketing campaign to parents and compliance checks on businesses that sell alcohol to ensure they are not selling to minors, Warner said.

She added that the Easthampton coalition is applying in March for a $125,000 federal “drug-free communities” grant to support and expand its activities. The Northampton Prevention Coalition successfully applied for such a grant last year.

Information about local prevention coalitions is available on SPIFFY’s website,

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