Saturday April 28, 2012

Today’s prescription drug round-up in Berkshire County is the capstone to a week-long effort to curb youth substance use and abuse.

On Tuesday of this week, Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray, chairman of the Interagency Council on Substance Abuse and Pre vention, announced a series of 50 Town Hall meetings and other events designed to examine what can be done to prevent underage alcohol use, prescription and other forms of drug abuse in the commonwealth.

But Berkshire County was ahead of the curve, previously hosting a South Berkshire Community Coalition parent/child forum, substance-free health and activity nights in Pittsfield, and a day-long series of workshops and meetings for the constituency area of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, be tween March and April.

Chris Herren, former NBA player-turned drug and alcohol addict-turned author and activist, visited Pittsfield on April 12. This week students in schools, from Taconic to Wahconah Regional high schools, took on Herren’s Project Purple this week to stand up against substance abuse.

A Taconic, for example, students wore purple on Tuesday, Chris Herren Awareness Day, and informational fliers were taped to school walls.

At Wahconah, a group of nine scholar athletes were chosen to represent the school in the Massachusetts Inter scholastic Athletic Asso
ciation’s "YOU LEAD" program which has a motto of: "Youth Leading Everywhere Abstaining From Drugs." They too, participated in Project Purple on April 24.


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"We would like to encourage all Berkshire County students to have an awarenss day at their school," said Kevin Boino, a Wahconah freshman who helped organize the above event.

According to a 2012 analysis of Prevention Needs Asse ssment Survey results for Berkshire County youth in grades 8, 10 and 12, over time, for example, alcohol use has decreased from 2006 levels in all age groups, with the greatest reductions in eighth graders, from about 55 percent to about 39 percent using in 2011.

But overall, the organizers of anti-drug and alcohol events still have cause for concern. Compared to their peers nationally, Berkshire County youths exceed the average use of alcohol, marijuana and cigarettes. Also, as students get older, their substance use tends to increase.

To read the full report and analysis online, visit: http://bit.ly/JLaRIJ.