Around 1,900 community leaders from throughout the United States and 15 countries gained new skills and strategies to prevent teen drug use at CADCA's 2014 Mid-Year Training Institute, held July 20-24 in Orlando, Fla. The event featured a number of national and state experts, including Michael Botticelli, Acting Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).
From the most rural American towns to faraway islands like Cape Verde, coalition leaders came to the Mid-Year to learn from their peers, master new skills and discover new resources to help them achieve their mission.
The Mid-Year featured more than 70 half-day, one-day and two-day courses on a wide range of topics – everything from how to prevent prescription drug abuse and the abuse of synthetic drugs to how to create tobacco-free environments, reduce impaired driving and develop policies to reduce marijuana use and underage drinking.
Botticelli addressed the more than 400 youth taking part in the National Youth Leadership Initiative track at the Mid-Year, telling them that they are the "linchpin" to solving our nation's drug use problems.
"We need to empower you so that all youth can reach their full potential," he told the NYLI participants. He added that ONDCP will expand their support of CADCA's NYLI, which trains young people in a community problem-solving model to address local drug use problems.
Botticelli also took part in a mock city council meeting where teens acted out how they would present to local government officials on various policy issues. The ONDCP Acting Director also addressed adults during the Drug Free Communities Program Town Hall Meeting that took place on Wednesday afternoon.
In addition, participants heard from Kana Enomoto, Deputy Principal Administrator for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), who was the keynote speaker at the Opening Plenary, as well as many other experts such as Matthew Dunagan from Florida's Office of the Attorney General, and Fran Flener, Arkansas Drug Director, who led a course on prescription drug abuse prevention.
CADCA's Mid-Year offered something for everyone. For attendee Jacque Gencarelle, the Mid-Year proved to be a valuable learning experience.
"I've been pleasantly surprised that each of the courses I've attended has offered great information and the networking has been phenomenal," said Jacque Gencarelle from the Northern Arizona Regional Behavioral Health Authority.
The highlight for her was learning best practices from other coalitions that are facing similar challenges around youth marijuana use.
"We've been learning a lot to help us with the marijuana issues in Arizona. It was especially helpful to hear lessons learned from coalitions in Colorado [where retail marijuana is now legal]," Gencarelle noted.