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Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition

About SAPC

Mobilize and empower the community to reduce substance abuse primarily among youth through action, education, and collaboration.

The Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition envisions the communities of Chester, Deep River, and Essex CT as safe, healthy and free of substance abuse.

The goals of the coalition are to:

  1. Reduce substance use among youth and, over time, among adults by addressing the factors in a community that increase the risk of substance abuse and promoting the factors that minimize the risks of substance abuse.
  2. Establish and strengthen collaboration among partner organizations in support of the community’s effort to reduce and prevent substance abuse among youth.

The coalition will achieve its goals by working simultaneously on key strategies that include:

  1. Providing information and educational presentations.
  2. Enhancing skills of our Coalition Members and those in the community who work with youth.
  3. Providing support for activities that build youth assets and protective factors or reduce risks to our kids.
  4. Changing the consequences that youth face for drug or alcohol infractions at school or in the community.
  5. Change policies around alcohol or drug availability in our community.

Formed in 1984 as the Substance Abuse Task Force, this body soon became the Substance Abuse Prevention Council. The SAPC is made up of people from our communities who share a common concern about substance abuse and an interest and commitment toward its prevention. An excellent forum for parents, students, educators, clergy, and people from the business community, law enforcement, and local government also participate.

In January 2013, membership voted to change their name to Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition to more accurately reflect their level of community collaboration.

The SAPC is funded through the CT Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services’ (DMHAS) Local Prevention Council (LPC) grant program. As of September 30, 2016 the SAPC was awarded a Drug Free Communities support grant through the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The Coalition has also received funding as part of Connecticut’s Strategic Prevention Framework, State Incentive Grant (SPF SIG) along with Youth and Family Services of Haddam-Killingworth and East Haddam Youth and Family Services as well as from ONDCP’s Drug Free Communities Support Program.

How SAPC is Organized:

Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition 12 Sectors Represented: youth, parents, businesses, media, school, youth-serving organizations, law enforcement, religious/fraternal organizations, civic or volunteer groups, healthcare, government and others involved in substance abuse.

Tri-Town Youth Services Bureau
Board of Directors + 5 Professional Staff
Fiscal Agent, Grant Management
Prevention Coordinator

Steering & Sustainability Committee
Leadership Team, Recruitment, Planning and Goal-setting, Marketing & Public Relations

Parent Advisory Group
Hear parent concerns, plan educational events and town hall meetings.

School Partnership Team
Build calendar of classroom lessons, special assemblies and school events centered on positive climate, youth leadership, drug & alcohol awareness, self-confidence and resistance skills.

Youth Action Council
Provide youth perspective on issues, share concerns and develop new initiatives.

Community Wellness Group
Promote & support stress management, self-care and overall good health.

Policy Task Force
Use state, local laws and ordinances & school policies to reduce substance use. Build more comprehensive safety net for higher risk youth (those using substances, in juv. justice or truant).

Want to get involved?

The SAPC welcomes all who may be interested.
The Coalition meets five times per school year at:

Tri-Town Youth Services Bureau, 56 High St., Deep River, CT 06417

Call our office at 860-526-3600 for the next meeting date.

Successful Prevention:

Prevention science today looks beyond singular problem behaviors at the broader scope of factors that promote or undermine healthy human development. Successful prevention programs consider the greater social and environmental factors that influence a young person’s ability to make informed, healthy decisions that support their physical and psychological safety.

Information on Substance Abuse Prevention:

Click on any of the substance tab titles below to expand for more information.

Kids often receive mixed messages about drugs and alcohol from the media, their peers, and even their parents. It’s critical to speak to your children in an informed way about alcohol and substance abuse from an early age. Parents have the power to better equip their children with the tools needed to handle the pressures and influences to use drugs. Alcohol and other drugs are powerful substances with the potential to cause harm to the mind and body. Learn more about how you can protect your child from drug use and abuse, and the importance of teaching your child to resist drugs and alcohol.

More Useful Links!

Get Smart About Drugs – U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency website for parents

Above the Influence – Created for the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign (out of the Office of National Drug Control Policy), this youth designed campaign shares facts and resources on how teens can aware of and rise above the influences around them.

National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens – A website specifically designed for teens looking for answers on the science behind drug abuse. There’s downloadable art, media, a blog, and honest answers to any questions a teen may have. Parents and teachers can also find tools on how to help their kids understand the science.

But What About the Children? Campaign -A campaign from the organization National Families in Action (NIFA), the website provides resources for citizens to demand that if states have marijuana legislation, there are provisions to protect children. Find news and resources on medical studies and what states across the country are doing to protect children.

Just Think Twice – Created by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) for teens, this website details the facts and consequences of drug use and gives teens an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the DEA’s role.

The Search Institute Survey of John Winthrop and Valley students conducted in January 2019 revealed that only 57% of youth have clear rules and consequences at home, and parents who monitor their whereabouts. SAPC targets “parental permissiveness” as one of the root causes of underage drinking and drug use in our three towns. 22% of Valley’s seniors and juniors reported parental permissiveness around using marijuana products and 10% reported parental permissiveness around drinking alcohol regularly. With 61% of juniors and 63% of seniors reporting drinking at a party in the last year with peers SAPC continues to focus on alcohol availability to underage youth in our community. 

Founded as Students Against Driving Drunk in 1981 in Wayland, Massachusetts, SADD has grown to become the nation’s leading peer-to-peer youth education and prevention organization with thousands of chapters in middle schools, high schools, and colleges. SADD continues to endorse a firm “No Use” message related to use of alcohol and other drugs, and highlights prevention of all destructive behaviors and attitudes that are harmful to young people, including traffic safety, substance abuse, and an array of issues dealing with personal health and safety.

Tobacco rates have been continually decreasing in the tri-town area, as well as nationally. Only 6% of Valley High School students have smoked cigarettes once or more in the past 30 days, and 91% of Valley students feel that it is risky to smoke one or more packs of cigarettes per day. (SEARCH survey 2017). However, this does not account for vaping. According to the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey 27.5% of high schoolers use e-cigarettes or “vape.” In the upcoming 2021 survey SAPC will include specific questions on vaping products in order to accurately address the national vaping crisis in our community. To learn more about vaping visit the links below.

Quick Facts about the Risks of Vaping  

Quitting Vaping Using an App

Healthy Conversations about Tobacco

Facts and information from the CDC

Information from Above the influence

Signs and symptoms of abuse

How to quit:
For Free Help or Information to Quit call the CT Quitline at 1-800-784-8669 or For the hearing impaired -TTY number is 1-877-777-6534 or go to to enroll online.

Local Treatment:
Middlesex Hospital’s Smoking Intervention Program
Meetings are by appointment, call 860-358-5420.

Alcohol is the most commonly used substance by teens in our community. The SEARCH survey taken in January 2019 showed that almost 50% of juniors and seniors report having used alcohol once or more in the past 30 days, and 20% of high school students surveyed think it is not risky to have five or more drinks once or twice a week.

Parents’ guide to underage drinking

Partnership for Drug Free Kids

Talk they hear you campaign

National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens

Signs and Symptoms

Local Alcohol Anonymous support groups

For treatment see link below for local addiction services or call to speak with Tri Town’s clinical director Melanie Meyer, LMFT at 860-526-3971 for further assistance in navigating treatment options. 

More Useful Links!

SetTheRulesCT is designed to provide parents and adults with information and resources to help parents keep Connecticut’s youth from drinking alcohol.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Underage Drinking Prevention 

Marijuana is the second most commonly used substance by teens in our community. About 30% of high school students who participated in the SEARCH survey*, report having used marijuana once or more in the past 30 days, and 64% do not perceive using marijuana once or twice a week as risky behavior. We are finding that the perception of harm is going down concerning marijuana use. When the perception of harm goes down, the amount of usage goes up. According to the SEARCH survey*, 78% of high school students feel that their parents would disapprove of them using marijuana, but only about 30% of students feel their peers would disapprove of them smoking marijuana.  (*SEARCH survey 2019)

Talk to your teen about marijuana

Information from Above the influence

Marijuana effects on youth from the National Institute of drug abuse

Smart Approaches to Marijuana: Lessons learned… from Washington and Colorado

Signs and Symptoms

For information on treatment options see local resources below or reach out to Tri Town’s clinical director Melanie Meyer, LMFT at 860-526-3971 for assistance in finding other resources. 

Over 2 million people in the U.S. are suffering from a substance use disorder related to opioids. 80% of people who use heroin first misused a prescription opioid. Read more statistics here  

In our community, we see very low numbers of students using prescription drugs that were not prescribed to them. While this is good news, even one student misusing prescription drugs is highly concerning due to the risk for severe consequences that can come from abusing drugs like opioids (Oxycontin, Vicodin, morphine, etc.), benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, Ativan) or over the counter medications like cough syrup or sleeping medications. These drugs often appear to be “safe” because they can be prescribed by a doctor. While they can be safely used under the guidance of a doctor people can become addicted to them almost immediately. Medical attention is often needed stopping these medications such as weaning off (slowly lowering the dose over time) or a medical detox (often takes place in a hospital setting so vitals can be observed by doctors). 

Parent Talk Kit

Information from Partnership for Drug-Free kids

How prescription drugs lead to heroin

Signs and symptoms

National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens

Proper disposal

Visit Stop Medicine Abuse, a website resource created to provide information and stop over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine abuse.

  • TALK to your teen about OTC cough medicine abuse.
  • MONITOR your medicine cabinets and your teen’s activities.
  • SHARE what you have learned with other parents and community leaders.

Heroin has continued to be a national crisis with 948 deaths in Connecticut from heroin in 2018. Heroin is often used after someone has tried prescription opioids. Heroin can be snorted, injected or smoked. Many people start out by smoking it and eventually inject it due to seeking a faster high. There are many risks that come with injecting heroin such as overdose or HIV/Hepatitis which may happen when reusing or sharing needles. 

Naloxone is a medication that has the ability to “reverse” an overdose. Anyone is able to access Naloxone even without a prescription by going to CVS or Walgreens. It may be useful to have access to this if you or someone you know uses heroin or other opioids. Find out more here. 

What you need to know about Heroin

Facts and information from Above the Influence

How prescription drugs lead to heroin

Signs and Symptoms

Free Parent Toolkit!

TTYSB mailed out these following postcards in Spring 2017 to increase adults’ awareness of marijuana’s effects on youth. 

Information on Bullying, Suicide and Truancy Prevention:

Click on any of the prevention tab titles below to expand for more information.

The Social Development Programs at Chester, Deep River and Essex Elementary Schools are a shining example of a comprehensive introduction to school-based prevention work. Increasing protective factors through leadership, community service and consistent messaging about social-emotional life are key ingredients to prevention for young people. TTYSB maintains communication with all three elementary social workers and is pleased to offer support or participate in the Social Development Programs.

Bullying & Harassment: A Guide for Parents and Guardians

CT State Department of Education: Resources on Bullying

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that suicide is the second leading cause of death among American youth ages 15-19. Equally concerning are the related depressive and suicidal thoughts, plans and suicide attempts made by youth each year. The 2015 High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey shows that 13% of Connecticut youth are seriously considering suicide in a given year.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Available 24/7) 1-800-273-8255

1 Word 1 Voice 1 Life

PLAN 2020

Survivors of Suicide Loss Support Group of Southeastern CT

January 2017’s Search Institute Survey of middle and high school students revealed that 41% of the students who identified the lowest number of developmental assets (10 assets, or less) also reported that they skipped school once of more in the previous month. Our local data is consistent with research that shows the more developmental assets a young person has, the more consistently they will attend school and the better their academic performance will be.

School Connectedness

Help is here!

Click on any of the prevention tab titles below to expand for more information.

Community Health Resources: Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment
ACRA is six-month program designed to help teens replace alcohol or drug use with positive social activities and behaviors. By helping teens understand how substance use is negatively impacting their lives, we work with them to set goals, learn new skills and make positive choices.  With this link:

In-home family therapy specialized for teens with substance abuse, Multi-Dimensional Family Therapy through Child and Family Agency in Essex, CT. You can read about MDFT here. Visit Child and Family Agency to inquire about services. Insurances accepted. 

Project Courage in Old Saybrook, CT. Specialized addiction treatment for adolescents and young adults that is client centered and addresses obstacles that have plagued the addiction treatment industry: We believe addiction is an opportunity for change. Insurances accepted.

Alcohol Anonymous support groups

Rushford offers addiction recovery programs for adults and adolescents. Click here for a flyer and visit for more information. Insurances accepted. 

Gilead provides a broad range of high quality health care and recovery support services in the home and community to improve mental health, physical well-being, independence, and community integration for the individuals. For more information visit

Gambling free 24-hour toll-free helpline provides assistance to callers with gambling problems themselves, or someone they care about. Callers will be referred to the types of assistance that best suits their needs. Call 1-888-789-7777, or visit for their live chat option.

Tri-Town Youth Services Bureau, Inc.
56 High Street Deep River, Connecticut 06417
Call 860-526-3600
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