DrugFreeAZKids.org’s Way Out West Coalition Expands Scope of Service; Now Focusing on Alcohol, Marijuana and Prescription Drugs

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(BUCKEYE, ARIZ.) The Way Out West (WOW) Coalition has expanded its focus to include not only alcohol but also marijuana and prescription drug awareness and prevention as a result of the findings from its 2015 WOW Coalition Needs Assessment for Buckeye, Ariz.

The assessment found that in the City of Buckeye these three substances, alcohol, marijuana and prescription drugs, have a considerably higher usage rate by teens as compared to the rest of the state and other national averages. While alcohol is still the most used substance among Buckeye teenagers, the assessment results show that marijuana is easier for teens to access.

The assessment also finds:

  • Among high school students in Buckeye, 31.8 percent reported using alcohol in the past 30 days compared to 24 percent of teens in Arizona.
  • Among high school students in Buckeye, 16.5 percent reported using marijuana in the past 30 days compared to 13.5 percent of teens in Arizona.
  • Among high school students in Buckeye, 9.4 percent reported using non-prescribed prescription medication in the past 30 days compared to 6.1 percent of teens in Maricopa County.

“In the past, our focus has been on educating adults about the dangers of alcohol consumption among youth,” said Ed Eddingfield, state program coordinator. “Now, we will be addressing marijuana and prescription drugs as well as putting additional focus on educating both adults and youth.”

Other important assessment results include the percentage of teens that tried a substance at least once in their lifetime. The assessment found that 68.8 percent of 12th graders reported using alcohol at least once, 45.9 percent of 12th graders reported using marijuana at least once and 20.6 percent of 12th graders reported using prescription drugs at least once.

“The results of this assessment has sent a clear message that we need to make sure we’re educating teens and incorporating the other substances such as marijuana and prescription drugs,” said Larry Tracey, executive director for Youth4Youth.org and project manager for WOW Coalition. “The WOW Coalition’s youth subcommittee, comprised of high school students, is tasked with developing these important messages.”

Early in 2015, the WOW Coalition went through rebranding in anticipation of the need to support the education of the three substances. The new logo features a hand with the words, “Get In The Way” written across the palm. The tagline encourages both adults and youth to Get In The Way when it comes to recognizing drug-use.

“We were surprised how recognizable ‘the hand’ has become in just a few months,” said Dylan D., a Youngker High School senior and youth subcommittee member for WOW Coalition. “People remember the hand, so our youth message will definitely continue to include it.”

For more information on the WOW Coalition, visit www.wayoutwestcoalition.org. For more information on DrugFreeAZKids.org, visit www.DrugFreeAZKids.org.

About Way Out West (WOW) Coalition:

The Way Out West (WOW) Coalition, founded by DrugFreeAZKids.org and Youth Evaluation and Treatment Centers, exists to create a safe, unified, drug-free community in the greater Buckeye Valley. WOW’s strength comes from the diversity of its members from all sectors of the community, from business, healthcare, law enforcement and education to parents and community members and leaders. The Way Out West Coalition is funded by Mercy Maricopa Integrated Care.

About DrugFreeAZKids.org:

DrugFreeAZKids.org is a 501(c) (3) non-profit statewide organization with a volunteer board of directors.  The mission of DrugFreeAZKids.org is to prevent and reduce youth drug and alcohol use through community education and awareness.  This is done by providing parents, caregivers, healthcare providers, educators and others with educational tools, information and resources.

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