A long history of research posits a variety of relationships between substance abuse and suicide, including risk factors and indirect causation. While the evidence demonstrates that substance abuse and suicide are related, it is less clear how these behaviors interrelate. Recently, Dr. Richard A. Grucza and his colleagues were interested in examining the relationship between smoking cigarettes and suicide. The researchers investigated whether areas with state-level policy interventions relating to tobacco (increases in cigarette excise taxes and strengthening of smoke-free air laws) have lower suicide rates than areas that do not have these tobacco policy interventions. The study found that, “increases in both smoke-free indoor air policies and cigarette excise taxes were associated with reduced suicide rates…” (8).
Continuing advances in software design allow coalitions to operate more effectively by refining their understanding of the often complex relationships that exist between diverse organizations. Coalitions currently engage in network analysis and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software across a variety of fields. In a new article published in the American Journal of Community Psychology, researchers examined the statewide work of the Hawai’i Children’s Trust Fund (HCTF) Coalition in preventing child abuse and neglect in the state. Researchers Gina Cardazone, Angela Sy, and Ivan Chik of the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Laura Corlew of the East-West Center used a combination of network analysis and GIS mapping to measure the effectiveness of this coalition and explained how their findings can be applied to other coalitions.
Over the years, the prevention field has emphasized the importance of understanding the environmental and social settings in which violence takes places, including theories relating the number and location of alcohol outlets to violence. The occurrence of interpersonal violence increases in and nearby places with alcohol outlets, specifically bars and liquor stores. These incidences of violence near alcohol outlets transpire for many possible reasons, including they are mainly located in areas with less protection and provide opportunities for social interactions leading to violence. A recent study of violent crimes in Boston, MA provides data indicating that alcohol outlets are predictive of violent crime.
While alcohol impaired driving rates among youth have declined in the United States, drug impaired driving appears to be on the rise. Research indicates illicit or prescribed drugs are associated with an increased rate of motor vehicle crashes, making current excessively high rates of drug impaired driving a significant public health concern. A recent study examining data from the Monitoring the Future project found that just over one out of every four (28%) of high school seniors were a driver or drove with someone under the influence of alcohol or other illicit drugs, with the percentage of seniors driving after smoking marijuana almost three times more than alcohol impaired drivers.Issues: Drunk/Impaired driving
The Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking Act (STOP Act) calls for the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to submit an annual Report to Congress reviewing the consequences of underage drinking along with Federal and State policies aimed at preventing and reducing the problem behavior. The HHS most recently submitted the 2012 Report to Congress on Underage Drinking Prevention and Reduction, highlighting findings from prevention research, initiatives, and collaborations conducted across the country.Issues: Underage drinking
As with any group formation involving multiple parties, backgrounds and opinions, coalition unification can be a challenging feat. Though members of coalitions join for the shared goal of creating safe and drug-free communities, contrasting personalities and experiences sometimes result in conflict, inhibiting coalition progress. In this instance, members view differences with other members as incompatible for successful collective efforts. A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Calgary identified four crucial factors for helping organizations facilitate effective community collaboration.
Decades of research strongly support Screening and Brief Intervention (SBI) as an effective means for identifying and reducing unhealthy alcohol use and related consequences among adults. More recent explorations into the use of SBI for children and adolescents indicate similar benefits and in 2010 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended that health care providers of children and adolescents conduct screening for alcohol, tobacco and other drug use during all office visits. A recent study using a national survey of students in the 10th grade found that a significant number of health care providers do not follow these guidelines as recommended. This research highlights the need to engage in local efforts to educate and support practitioners in providing screening and brief intervention for all of their patients.
In the United States, smoking remains the leading cause of premature mortality and alcohol consumption the third-leading cause of mortality. Not only does the concurrent use of cigarettes and alcohol increase risks for certain cancers, but also makes it more difficult to quit either substance. Since concurrent use of tobacco and alcohol is very common among young adults, they are often the focus of aggressive tobacco promotional efforts. A recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health demonstrates that many tobacco companies not only research the link between these two products, but also use this knowledge to develop marketing strategies that reinforce concurrent use of alcohol and tobacco.
In the United States, alcohol use remains widespread among college students. Their high-risk drinking produces a number of “second-hand” dangerous consequences not only to the drinker, but also to other individuals, including interruption of sleep and study, verbal harassment, assault, and degradation of the on-campus environment. Since college drinking involves environmental factors, current research suggests coalitions need to consider methods focusing on both the campus and the community environment to reduce alcohol use and alcohol-related problems. To expand existing research, a research team led by Dr. Mark Wolfson at Wake Forest School of Medicine conducted the Study to Prevent Alcohol Related Consequences (SPARC), which used community organizing to develop and implement environmental strategies on college campuses and the surrounding communities.Issues: College Drinking
Current research suggests that small community environments proximal, or near in location, to an adolescent’s residence are most important to coalitions serving rural communities covering large geographic areas. However, much of the prior research concentrated on understanding adolescent problem behaviors at the individual-level in rural settings or community-level factors in urban settings. A recent study conducted by the Prevention Research Center at Pennsylvania State University, which investigated the association between tobacco and alcohol retailers, youth-serving organizations, and problem behaviors in rural communities, suggests that characteristics of the proximal community environment predict youth problem behavior.