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Save the Date
Annual Walk for Recovery
Saturday, September 19
at DCR Herter Artesani Park, Brighton
9 am – 1pm
To volunteer contact Helen.Connolly@steward.org
Walk for Recovery Information
Next Task Force Meeting
December 3, 2015
2:30 - 4:00 pm
Brighton Marine Health Center
77 Warren Street 3rd Floor
Brighton, MA
7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Spalding Hospital
1575 Cambridge St.
Cambridge, 3rd Floor Chapel
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Local Parents Laud Benefits of AB Youth Coalition

When parents of ABSATF Youth Coalition members were asked what changes they had noticed in their sons and daughters, we found that the benefits of participating in the Youth Coalition went well beyond knowing the science of addiction.

The parents of a rising sophomore said, "He seems to recognize the power of working on a team to tackle a common problem among young people."

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Forum Brings Together Adults, Youth to Learn Substance Abuse Prevention Strategies

The Allston Brighton Substance Abuse Task Force (ABSATF) recently hosted a free community forum titled “The Unbiased Truth: Facts about Marijuana, Alcohol & Opioids” with presenter Kevin Hill, MD, MHS, an addiction psychiatrist and clinical researcher at McLean Hospital.

Nearly 40 parents, teachers, school staff, and youth attended the forum held at the Josephine A. Fiorentino Community Center in Brighton. Dr. Hill dispelled popular myths about marijuana, alcohol and opioids and outlined signs that could indicate a young person is using alcohol or other drugs. Laurie Jo Wallace of Health Resources in Action (HRiA) discussed successful strategies to use when talking with youth about drugs and alcohol. There was an interactive activity in which the audience took turns role playing these conversations. Wallace emphasized that adults need to listen and be empathetic but also set boundaries for young people.

Eight youth ages 7 to 15 attended a peer workshop that ran simultaneously. Two members of the ABSATF Youth Coalition, Andrew Wong and Joseph Rowland, led the group in a series of interactive activities geared toward “How to Help a Friend,” through various situations such as depression, bullying and what to do when offered drugs.

“Hosting an event that had relevant content for both adults and youth at the same time in the same location was a key to its success,” said Liz Parsons, ABSATF community coordinator. “We hope to structure more workshops like this one, and we’re grateful to Charlesview for providing the space where we could gather to discuss these important topics in our community.”

This event was sponsored by the Allston-Brighton Substance Abuse Task Force, MA Bureau for Substance Abuse Services, and Charlesview, Inc.

Allston-Brighton Substance Abuse Task Force to Host Forum on Youth Substance Abuse Prevention
Free Community Event Will Help Parents, Educators and Professionals who work with Youth

The Allston Brighton Substance Abuse Task Force will host a free community forum titled “The Unbiased Truth: Facts about Marijuana, Alcohol & Opioids” with presenter Kevin Hill, MD, MHS, an addiction psychiatrist and clinical researcher at McLean Hospital. The forum will take place on Wednesday, April 29, 2015, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Charlesview Community Center at 123 Antwerp Street in Allston.

The forum will benefit those who have direct contact with youth – parents, teachers, school administrators and staff and other professionals in youth-oriented roles. Dr. Hill will dispel popular myths about marijuana, alcohol and opioids and outline signs that may indicate a young person is using drugs and/or alcohol. Participants will learn strategies to talk with youth about drugs and alcohol and understand treatment options for youth who use alcohol and drugs.

The event includes a light dinner. Interpretation services are available if needed. Youth ages 11 to 18 are invited to attend a peer workshop that runs simultaneously. To register, please visit www.abdrugfree.org. Registration must be received by April 24 if interpretation services are required.

Dr. Hill is an addiction psychiatrist conducting clinical research aimed at developing medications and behavioral interventions that might help those who want to stop smoking marijuana or cigarettes. He earned a Masters in Health Science from the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program at Yale University and has published on numerous topics in addiction. Recently, Dr. Hill has spoken nationally and appeared on television on the topics of marijuana policy and treatment, offering a balanced, evidence-based stance on these issues. His book, Marijuana: The Unbiased Truth about the World’s Most Popular Weed, was released by Hazelden Publishing in March 2015.

Event Details
The Unbiased Truth: Facts about Marijuana, Alcohol & Opioids
Who: Kevin Hill, MD, MHS, addiction psychiatrist and clinical researcher at McLean Hospital
What: A Forum for Parents, Educators and Professionals Who Work with Youth
Date: Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Time: 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Location: Charlesview Community Center, 123 Antwerp Street, Allston
Cost: Free (includes light dinner and interpretation services if needed)
Registration: www.abdrugfree.org
Contact: Liz Parsons, ABSATF, elizabeth.parsons@steward.org or 617-789-2140

This event is sponsored by the Allston-Brighton Substance Abuse Task Force, St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center and Charlesview, Inc.

Allston-Brighton Youth Coalition Tackles Opiate Abuse Epidemic with Peer-to-Peer Workshops
March 23, 2015

Allston-Brighton youth are reaching out to peers throughout the community to raise awareness of and provide strategies to prevent prescription drug abuse, often the starting point for opiate addiction, a widespread issue nationwide. While the Allston-Brighton Substance Abuse Force’s (ABSATF) Youth Coalition has worked on similar issues for years, this is the first time the group has created workshops that give them direct access to youth in the community. 

The ABSATF Youth Coalition recently led their fifth community workshop on prescription drug prevention for Allston-Brighton youth. Over the past few months, the Youth Coalition has presented the interactive, 45-minute workshop they created at three different sites, including the Charlesview Residences, Faneuil Gardens, and most recently at the Road to the Right Track, a youth program led by the Boston Police Department D-14 that combines track workouts with health and wellness discussions while providing civic engagement opportunities with the police department.

"By creating and leading the workshop, our Youth Coalition members serve as credible resources and role models to their peers—making the content even more accessible to the youth participants," said Elizabeth Parsons, ABSATF community coordinator.

In these workshops, ABSATF Youth Coalition members discuss the definition and statistics of prescription drug abuse and talk about ways to prevent it. The Youth Coalition begins by presenting photos of people potentially addicted to prescription drugs in an effort to break down stereotypes of what a person with a substance use disorder looks like. By breaking down myths and imparting facts, the Youth Coalition helps their younger peers to understand that addiction is a disease.  The Youth Coalition has found that the small group workshops help participants to feel comfortable which fosters authentic conversations.

The Youth Coalition created the prescription drug prevention workshop which is aimed mainly at middle school aged students. The Boston Public Health Commission provided content training as well as a Partnership for Success grant to support the workshop.  Health Resources in Action helped the Youth Coalition learn facilitation and public speaking techniques as well as strategies to help them create the workshop. The result is an interactive workshop session that engages the young audience with visuals, questions and a game. An evaluation is done near the end of the workshop to gauge participants’ knowledge after the presentation. The Youth Coalition has found that after the workshop, participants understand the definition of prescription drug misuse and can identify what can happen when prescription drugs are misused.

"Leading the prescription drug workshops and spreading awareness of this issue to peers is important to me," said Julia, a Youth Coalition member. "My goal is to empower other youth so they can understand what's going on around them, make healthy decisions and know there is support if they need it."

The Youth Coalition is creating additional workshops for this spring that will focus on preventing marijuana use while encouraging principles of the Above the Influence national campaign, including stress management and peer support.  The Youth Coalition is seeking additional community partners to host these workshops. Please contact Elizabeth Parsons at abyouthcoalition@gmail.com or 617-789-2140. Pizza is supplied as an incentive for attendees.

Youth Coalition Works to Ban Alcohol Ads on City Property
January 12, 2015

The Youth Coalition has worked ardently to gather support for a ban on alcohol advertising on City of Boston property. Trained in media advocacy, media literacy and photo voice, the Youth Coalition documented alcohol ads in the City in July 2013 and then completed a photo voice project, combining photography with narratives, to demonstrate the ads’ effects on youth. To date they have gathered 250 individual signatures and the support of more than 30 community organizations on their petition. They recently met with a liaison to Mayor Martin Walsh and an aide to City Councilor Mark Ciommo. The next step is to meet with members of the Mayor’s Cabinet. Read the petition here.

ABSATF Shares Strategies with City Connects
December 16, 2014

Helen Connolly, ABSATF program director, and Liz Parsons, ABSATF community coordinator, were panelists earlier this month at a forum discussing prevention strategies and programming for 40 City Connects coordinators who work with students in K-8 in the Boston Public Schools and Catholic schools in Boston. City Connects coordinators link students with health and wellness services. The forum gave them the opportunity to learn about ABSATF, substance abuse concerns in the community, and successful programs and strategies that City Connects coordinators can utilize.

ABSATF Youth Coalition Works toward Alcohol Ad Ban on City Property

The Allston-Brighton Substance Abuse Task Force (ABSATF) Youth Coalition is building awareness of the effects of alcohol advertising on youth and working to gain support for a ban on alcohol advertising on City of Boston property. The ban would include bus shelters, trash/recycling bins and street furniture, among other city property.

The Youth Coalition is advocating for a ban of alcohol advertisements on city property because advertising placement in youth-dominated areas negatively affects the health of youth by increasing underage drinking. Consider these facts:

  • Research shows that greater exposure to alcohol advertising is associated with increased drinking in underage youths. One study showed, “each additional advertisement seen [above the monthly average of 22.7] increased the number of drinks consumed"1
  • The cost of underage drinking in Massachusetts was approximately 1.4 billion dollars in 20102
  • There are inordinately high rates of outdoor alcohol advertising in neighborhoods of color. Consequently, youth of color are exposed to images of alcohol and alcohol-related behaviors in their communities on a daily basis from.3
The ABSATF Youth Coalition is made up of high school students who either live or go to school in Allston-Brighton. The coalition was part of a group that raised awareness of alcohol ads effects on teens, thus leading to a ban of alcohol advertising on MBTA property in 2012.

Help the Youth Coalition by signing the petition to ban alcohol advertisements on City of Boston property. Please email a signed copy of the letter to Liz Parsons at elizabeth.parsons@steward.org or send a hard copy of the signed letter to Liz Parsons, ABSATF Youth Coalition, 77 Warren Street, Building 1, Brighton, MA, 02135.

1. L.B. Snyder, F.F. Milici, M. Slater, H. Sun, and Y. Strizhakova, “Effects of Alcohol Advertising Exposure on Drinking Among Youth,” Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine 160 (2006): 18-24.
2. Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation. Underage drinking in Massachusetts: the facts. Available at: http://www.udetc.org/factsheets/MA.pdf. Accessed July 22, 2014.
3. Alaniz M. Alcohol availability and targeted advertising in racial/ethnic communities. Alcohol Health Res World.1998;22:286-289.

Ado Jean (seated), Haley Grygiel (left) and Schuyler Grygiel (right), work to get community members in Brighton Center to sign their petition to Mayor Walsh to ban alcohol advertisements on city property.

ABSATF, Community Celebrate 11th Annual Walk for Recovery
Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Participants at the 11th Annual Walk for Recovery enjoyed a beautiful sunny morning at Herter-Artesani Park in Brighton. Before setting off on the 5K course along the Charles River, more than 200 participants from the greater Boston area chatted with friends, met with local legislators, and listened to inspiring stories of recovery from several recovery homes, including Granada House, Hope House, and Gavin House.

After thanking ABSATF for hosting the Walk and acknowledging that we were one of the first neighborhoods to do so, guest speaker Boston Mayor Martin Walsh spoke passionately about the importance of recovery services in the city, especially in the wake of the current prescription drug abuse crisis, and the need to remove stigma around addiction and recovery. Mayor Walsh also thanked the Allston-Brighton Youth Coalition for ongoing efforts to ban alcohol advertising on City of Boston property, an initiative that he supports. Other guest speakers included Will Luzier, executive director, Interagency Council on Substance Abuse and Prevention and Maryanne Frangules, executive director, Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery.

ABSATF would like to thank all 2014 Walk for Recovery sponsors. As the Task Force’s federal grant money has come to an end, ABSATF now relies on private and corporate donations to continue the progress it has made since 2008 in the area of substance abuse prevention.

2014 Walk for Recovery sponsors:

  • Boston College
  • Brighton Marine Health Center
  • Addiction Treatment Center of New England
  • Granada House
  • Boston Police Athletic League
  • Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins
  • State Representative Michael J. Moran
  • St. Elizabeth's Medical Center
  • Peoples Federal Savings Bank
  • Gavin Foundation
  • Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery
  • Joseph M. Smith Community Health Center
  • The Brian J. Honan Charitable Fund
  • Mt. Washington Bank, a Division of East Boston Savings Bank
  • Mark Ciommo, Allston-Brighton District City Councilor
  • Prime Realty Group
  • Houghton Chemical
Walk for Recovery in-kind donors:
  • 3 Scoops Ice Cream
  • Abbott's
  • Bangkok Bistro
  • Centre Salon
  • Mandy and Joe’s Deli
  • Newton Emblem Club
  • Oak Square Dunkin Donuts
  • Oak Square YMCA
  • Sam's Alterations
  • Starbucks
  • Stockyard Restaurant
  • Stone Hearth Pizza
  • Treats on Washington

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