While many local organizations have developed individual programs to address alcohol and substance abuse among teens, a new collaborative effort brings several area groups together to face this critical issue as one. Initiated by Drug Free Collier and the Naples site of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, the social norming campaign entitled “I’m Above Using” launched mid-September. The campaign aims to correct misperceptions that teens have about substance use among their peers.
The campaign focuses on the reality that four out of five Collier teens are not under the influence, according to the latest Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey. “It’s important for teens to know this positive statistic,” said Melanie Black, Executive Director of Drug Free Collier.
Overestimating or underestimating what our peers do can have negative consequences, Black said. When teens think everybody is using drugs or alcohol, it’s almost inevitable that more will. It’s these misperceptions that create more problems, she added.
To correct these misperceptions about drug and alcohol use among teens, Drug Free Collier and its partners have key information that will help set the record straight. “It’s our responsibility to continue to educate the community on all areas of substance abuse, treatment and recovery,” said Heather Burton, continuum coordinator at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. “We need an ongoing, collaborative effort to help kids during adolescence where research shows it usually all begins.”
Posters, television and radio announcements and other marketing materials are being used to drive home the message to students and parents. The hashtags #ImAboveUsing and #DetermineUrDestination are incorporated into the social media campaign.
Over the summer, Drug Free Collier polled hundreds of Collier youth between the ages of 12 and 18 years old to select the creative direction and messaging that would resonate with them. The students’ input resulted in a targeted campaign that provides our youth with tools to make good decisions and to bring awareness to the importance of taking a positive direction in their lives by avoiding the dangers of using and/or abusing alcohol and other drugs.
“We are very concerned about the rising trends among teens in our community,” said Black. “We have lots of data on accident statistics and health consequences. But for teens, much of their influence comes from peers, and we want to let them know that for the most part, their peers are drug and alcohol free.”
The fact that 4 out of 5 teens do not use drugs or alcohol is great news for Collier County, Black said. “It should no longer be a well kept secret, but rather something to be celebrated each day throughout this campaign.”
Joining forces with partners like the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and the Collier County Sheriff ’s Office shows how others in our community honor, respect and encourage our youth to continue making healthy choices.
ABOUT DRUG FREE COLLIER
Protecting Children from Substance Abuse! Drug Free Collier
is a coalition of concerned citizens working to protect children from
substance abuse. Established in 2005 with the help of key leaders in
our community, the local non-profit organization actively works on
solutions to reduce the tragic impact of adolescent substance abuse in
For help and information visit www.drugfreecollier.org or www.hazeldenbettyford.org or www.colliersheriff.org.