Illinois Youth Alcohol, Drug Prevention Group Wins $30,000 Federal Grant as New Report Says Teen Drug Use Zooms

(Springfield, IL) – April 8, 2011. Illinois’ leading youth alcohol, drug prevention group has received a $30,000 federal government grant to boost its prevention program effectiveness just as a new report released this week says teen drug and alcohol use is escalating as state governments slash prevention funding.

The Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association, which obtained the money from the Center for the Application of Prevention Technologies, on behalf of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration /Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, will use the competitive award for a year-long, comprehensive evaluation of its flagship prevention program, the Illinois Teen Institute program.

“We know this program works,” said IADDA CEO Sara Moscato Howe. “We have many individual success stories, but need a hard numbers assessment to evaluate and refine the program in order to more effectively deter Illinois teens from alcohol and drug abuse.”

The Illinois Teen Institute is an innovative program that develops Illinois youth as peer educators and advocates to their friends for alcohol, tobacco, and other drug prevention. The program develops community partnerships to support and encourage healthy teen lifestyle changes, and helps develop their leadership skills based on substance use prevention, touching approximately 5,000 Illinois teens each year, says Howe.

The new federal money comes just as a new report issued on Wednesday in New York by The Partnership Drug revealed there was a significant 67% increase in the number of teens who reported using Ecstasy in the past year, rising from 6% in 2008 to 10% in 2010. Similarly, marijuana use among teens has increased 22%, jumping from 32% in 2008 to 39% in 2010. Meanwhile, now 62% of teens said they had their first full alcoholic drink by age 15.

“It’s no coincidence that teen drug and alcohol use is escalating in the last few years as prevention funding is being cut,” said Howe. “That’s why our new grant is so important. It will help us fine tune our effectiveness as we face less money available for youth substance abuse prevention here in Illinois.”

Working with academics from Utah State University and Purdue University, IADDA will develop a process for evaluating the effectiveness of its teen prevention program as a statewide alcohol, tobacco, and drug prevention program.

“Ultimately, this work will enable IADDA to evaluate the Illinois Teen Institute more rigorously, making each dollar go farther and deterring youth from substance abuse more effectively,” said Howe.

The Illinois Teen Institute was a previous participant in Service to Science, a national technical assistance initiative dedicated to expanding the range or types of locally developed prevention programs that can demonstrate evidence of effectiveness. Such evidence allows organizations to build a stronger case for or identify needed improvements to their prevention programming.

“The award will enable our staff to continue this important work,” Howe added.

Since 2005, more than 150 innovative programs have received “Building Evaluation Capacity for Evidence-based Interventions” awards from the federal government.

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