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DHS news release

Sept. 12, 2007

Contact: Jim Sellers 503-945-5738
Program contact: Karen Wheeler 503-945-6191

Oregon preparing to launch targeted campaign against underage drinking, other substance abuse

Oregon is preparing to invest $1.5 million in local communities to assist families whose youth are considered most at risk for underage substance abuse.

The new money is a result of state legislators adopting Governor Ted Kulongoski's proposal to be more vigorous in fighting underage drinking, where Oregon's rates greatly exceed those nationally. The first classes for Oregon youth ages 10 to 14 and their parents will begin in January.

"Through campaigns and programs like this we are not only combating underage drinking and substance abuse, but we also are building healthier families and stronger communities," said Governor Kulongoski.

The Oregon Department of Human Services is giving counties and the state's nine federally recognized tribes until Sept. 27 to submit proposals for using the money.

"This will enable us to deliver proven services to combat Oregon's high rates of youthful substance abuse," said Karen Wheeler, DHS addictions policy manager. "Not only do we expect solid proposals from the counties and tribes, but some also have told us they will seek supplemental financing from other sources to expand the program."

Oregon will use the Strengthening Families Program, developed and evaluated at Iowa State University where research showed it reduces alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and methamphetamine use in youth from a diversity of ethnicities and household income levels.

DHS will deliver training in the program's use to 245 Oregonians, who in turn will train others. Nearly 1,400 families should be reached during the biennium that ends June 30, 2009, Wheeler said.

The Strengthening Families Program uses narrated videos, group discussion, role playing, learning games, family projects and other tested strategies to improve parenting skills, build refusal and other life skills in youth, and strengthen family bonds.

Wheeler said parents and youth will participate for seven weeks, usually evenings or Saturdays in a public school, church, community center or family-serving agency. Participating families, who also receive follow-up "booster" sessions at regular intervals, will be selected locally.

"We want to grow the results so they benefit neighborhoods and communities beyond the families we reach directly," Wheeler said.

The program also is recognized as effective by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in the U.S. Department of Justice, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, she said.

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