By: David Condry, Above The Influence Project Coordinator

This past week members of the Benton County Above The Influence Coalition attended the National Leadership Forum in Washington D.C.  This event brings together substance prevention coalitions from all over the United States through CADCA (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America).  It is during this Forum that coalitions are provided training from national leaders in substance prevention, law enforcement and health care.  In addition, the National Forum provides local substance prevention coalition members the opportunity to share with their state representatives the positive impact their efforts are having in their communities.

Our Coalition members had the opportunity to meet with Senator Chuck Grassley, Senator Joni Ernst and Congressmen Rod Blum.  During each meeting our representatives were informed of the prevention work being done throughout Benton County and the reasons these efforts are still needed.   In the last 2 years, 11th graders in Benton County have reported their 30 day use of alcohol from 30% down to 21%.  There was a similar drop in binge drinking from 22% to 12%.  In addition, there has been a small increase in 30 day use reported among 11th graders of marijuana (7%) and prescription drugs (5%)

Over the years, Senator Chuck Grassley has been a main supporter for substance abuse prevention in Washington and continues to be a strong advocate for it today.  During the Forum, Senator Grassley met with CADCA members during a reception before giving an update on current legislative work taking place to combat the drug problems in our nation.  In 1997, Senator Grassley was a co-sponsor for the Drug Free Communities Act (DFC) which provides grants to local community coalitions throughout the United States.  Benton County has benefited from a DFC Grant since 2011 through the Above The Influence Coalition.

The mission of the Above The Influence Coalition is to create and ensure environments where all youth are able to resist negative influences while embracing positive opportunities.  To learn more about this coalition and how to get involved visit bcati.com.