Letter: The importance of alcohol, drug prevention

Published: 2/23/2021 12:01:28 AM

New Hampshire’s school-based Student Assistance Programs (SAP) provide alcohol and drug prevention and intervention services to schools throughout the state, including eight within the Capital Region. SAP programs are at the forefront of screening students for risk factors associated with early substance misuse such as mental health problems, including unresolved trauma, addiction in the family, poor attachment to school and community, and peer related difficulties.

Through crisis intervention and individual and group services, SAP provides students with the opportunity to receive ongoing support and to learn critical skills around coping, building and strengthening relationships, and self-advocacy. SAP also provides prevention messaging to the entire student body to confront misperceptions around the dangers of early substance involvement.

For many at risk youth, SAP evens the playing field so that they might have a better shot for success in the school and personal arenas. As one past SAP student stated, “I can say with 100% certainty, had I not met the SAP counselor that fall in seventh grade I would be in a coffin deep in the ground.”

Federal funding to support these critical services is limited and undependable. Local school districts cannot support this work alone. Going forward, New Hampshire and its lawmakers need to make a strong financial investment in alcohol and drug prevention, and SAP specifically. This investment will pay out by launching more well-adjusted young adults who will be in a position to contribute to the best that is New Hampshire.

KIMBERLY HALEY

Concord

(The writer is SAP coordinator for Second Start.)




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