In 2003, 12 northern area schools joined efforts to establish The Alliance. The primary goal of this Alliance was to raise awareness of the drug culture our children were facing and offer hope through community programs for families suffering from drug use and addiction. Over the past 13 years the Alliance has met with thousands of families, educators, faith based youth ministers, local law enforcement and government officials to raise this awareness. Because The Alliance believes strongly in prevention/early intervention, we know that we made an impact and helped families not only prevent youth drug use but measures to take if drug use was a factor.
I would like to tell you that we have seen significant progress in drug prevention among our youth but to say that wouldbe an untruth. Over the past years and especially most recent there has been a tremendous increase in illegal drug use including marijuana and prescription drugs; especially narcotics. There has been a steady rise in heroin use and overdose deaths. Allegheny County has one of the highest overdose death rates across our county and a number of our local government officials have worked hard to combat that statistic. Unfortunately, their efforts have primarily centered on preventing overdose deaths with little focus on drug use prevention.
Prevention statistics are impossible to define. How do you measure the number of families helped or lives saved as a direct result of Alliance or other community initiatives? For whatever the reason, I believe we are on the losing side of preventing youth drug use. Perhaps a significant reason is the ongoing legalization of marijuana both medicinally andrecreationally. How can marijuana use be bad when more and more of our states are legalizing it? Marijuana growers are becoming millionaires, states are reaping huge tax benefits and parents are being misled by the promoters. Needless to say, I could go on. I could detail why marijuana for medical purposes does not have to contain the chemical that produces the high. I could go on to detail the significant crisis the schools across Colorado are now facing due to the high increase in students coming to school stoned, the young children poisoned by marijuana edibles, or the high increase in traffic accidents.
The bottom line: marijuana legalization creates apathy and apathy towards drug use of any kind is dangerous.
Over the past decade, dozens of school districts and private schools have become Alliance members. Today, that number has dwindled substantially. Not only has membership declined, the current member schools are not using any Alliance programs. For whatever the reasons, schools as well as families don’t appear to have a need or a demand for community drug prevention programs to reinforce what they themselves provide. I respect their decisions and am hopeful that all schools across our communities will continue to address the drug crisis not only with their students but parents as well.
At the conclusion of this school year, The Alliance will officially be dissolved as a non-profit community organization. The Alliance website however will remain intact and updates on issues and concerns that impact our community will continue to be disseminated. Thank you for your support in our endeavors over the years. It has been our honor and privilege to be of service.
I remain respectfully yours,