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CADCA National Leadership Forum
Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America
Feb. 12-15
Washington Convention Center

The Industry: Substance-abuse treatment and prevention

The Attendees: 3,120 drug warriors demanding a surge in troops

The Issues:

Street Smarts for Parents: Family-focused motivational speaker Milton Creagh, whose credits include a new parenting-skills DVD series, shared lessons learned from pimps: The best hooker recruits aren’t drug addicts but kids seeking a leader and not finding one at home. Similarly, every successful gang has counselors to teach the rules and has consequences for breaking them. “If you’re not being the parent,” said Creagh, “your kid will find someone who will.”

Hard Sell: How can your organization engage a community where drinking, even underage drinking, is culturally accepted? “It’s no different than selling a consumer brand,” said Ame Wadler of mega PR agency Burson-Marsteller during the “Branding Coalitions” workshop. “A nonprofit makes a connection [through creating] a brand.” Example: Breast cancer’s iconic pink ribbon, which was carefully tied to stories of hope to achieve icon status.

Do What I Say, Not What I Did: How do you dissuade children from risky behavior without feeling like a hypocrite? When the child is old enough to face temptations, one presenter suggested, share your mistakes and describe what you thought you lost by making them. And those permissive types who favor the “let them party in the safety of my own home” strategy are being targeted by the “Parents Who Host Lose the Most” campaign.

Lock That Medicine Chest: Debuting a new toolkit, “A Dose of Prevention: Stopping Cough Medicine Abuse Before It Starts,” an expert panel discussed the rising abuse of over-the-counter cough remedies containing dextromethorphan—-aka Dex, DXM, Robo, and Skittles. The high doses ingested can induce euphoria and hallucinations—-and lead to physiological damage. Between 1999 and 2004, abuse cases jumped tenfold, with one out of 10 people aged 12 to 17 reporting they used the low-cost, easily accessible drug to get high. A health-care-products trade association officer supported voluntary age restrictions; a community coalition leader advised clearing out the medicine cabinet.

Been There, Downed That: Toren Volkmann, a former cough medicine abuser and now traveling speaker who co-authored From Binge to Blackout: A Mother and Son Struggle with Teen Drinking, recommended that adults forego the typical and typically ignored “drugs are bad” propaganda and instead explain how drugs change a young person’s brain and body, and how they have such real-life consequences as car wrecks.

It’s That Simple: A youth coalition team presented “What’s Up,” a radio-ready message stating that “Drugs ain’t the way to achieve what you want.” Following the song, team members pledged that with clear-minded young leaders, “youth will be an asset, not a liability,” and that “our nation can become substance-free.”