It is our mission to provide awareness, prevention education, resources and support to youth, parents, schools and communities in regard to alcohol and drug use. Through these educational and prevention efforts, we will help shape healthy, responsible and successful future generations who are equipped with the necessary resiliency and decision making skills to make good choices in all aspects of their lives.
1) Reduce substance use among youth by raising awareness about the risks associated with substance use.
2) Provide parents with the necessary information to raise a drug-free child
3) Provide support, resources and guidance to families who are struggling with a loved one’s addiction.
Scope of the Problem
On September 22, 2016 Governor Scott Walker issued an Executive Order recognizing the growing opioid crisis plaguing the state of Wisconsin. The number of Wisconsin citizens who die as a result of drug overdose now exceeds the number of those who die from motor vehicle crashes, as well as suicide, breast cancer, colon cancer, firearms, influenza, or HIV. Opioid-related overdose deaths more than tripled in Wisconsin from 194 deaths in 2003 to 622 deaths in 2014 and continues to increase. They are now a leading cause of injury deaths in Wisconsin.
Youth substance abuse, including underage drinking, continues to be problematic throughout the state of Wisconsin. The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), which is conducted every two years by the Department of Public Instruction, reports on health risk behaviors among high school students. According to the most recent YRBS of 2800 students from 56 schools
· 15% of Wisconsin teenagers reported using a prescription medication without a doctor’s prescription in their lifetime.
· One out of every six teenagers reported using marijuana in the past 30 days.
· One out of every three teenagers reported drinking alcohol in the past 30 days.
The Your Choice participant surveys reported similar numbers to these findings. According to the 2016-2017 school surveys of 2,912 students from six schools:
· 50% reported that they had been offered a drug or alcohol.
· 36% reported that they had tried drugs or alcohol
· 55% reported that they had a friend who used drugs or alcohol.
We know that substance abuse problems often begin in the teenage years. According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), nine out of ten people with addictions began smoking, drinking or using drugs before they were 18. There are many consequences that result from youth substance abuse. Youth who repeatedly abuse substances often experience a variety of problems, including academic issues, health-related complications (including mental health), poor relationships with peers and family, and involvement in the justice system.
We also know that prevention is cost effective. Your Choice employs two strategies from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA). Your Choice Youth and Community Presentations are environmental prevention strategies that use public education to “influence community norms by raising awareness and creating community support for prevention.” Your Choice Student Assisted Programs, Detour and One Family to Another are targeted prevention strategies that reach out to populations already at risk for substance abuse problems. According to SAMSHA, research consistently indicates that the most effective prevention strategies use a combination of both approaches.
There are many reasons why youth begin to experiment with drugs and alcohol. Risk factors include genetic predisposition, brain characteristics that can make someone more likely to make high-risk choices than the average person, environmental influences, and psychological factors. The more risk factors that are present, the greater the risk of developing addiction. In addition, according to CASA, the teen brain is more vulnerable to making high-risk choices and more vulnerable to the damage from substances, including higher rates of addiction. It is for these reasons that these prevention programs are crucial to youth in our communities.