Prevention Connections is a program of the Family Guidance Center of Warren County that provides substance abuse prevention services with the goal of reducing and preventing substance abuse among youth, adults and senior citizens living in Warren County. Prevention Connections operates 3 initiatives that focus on targeted forms of substance abuse including underage drinking, marijuana use, misuse of prescription medications, use of opiates and heroin and new and emergent drugs.

The first initiative, The Coalition for Healthy and Safe Communities works to create healthy and safe communities that are free from substance abuse, addiction and related issues among people of all ages throughout Warren County. The Coalition is made up of professionals, parents and volunteers from various sectors of our community who have a passion for the prevention and treatment of alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse issues.

The Regional Coalition seeks to do the following:
•Create family and peer groups that are not supportive of underage drinking, abusive drinking, marijuana use, heroin use and abuse of prescription medications
•Increase the passage and enforcement of policies/laws that support non-use of alcohol by minors, responsible drinking by those over 21 and non-use of illegal substances
•Create work environments that support healthy lifestyle choices
•Implement changes within the region’s three hospital emergency rooms that empower healthcare workers to address substance use among their patients
•Enhance campus life at the region’s three colleges to focus on healthy lifestyle choices
•Create opportunities for youth to become role models and leaders in their communities

Establishing a foundation of membership in the Coalition that represents a cross-section of the community has been key to achieving its goals. Diverse leadership, representing different perspectives and expertise, is an essential component to the Coalition’s success. The Coalition’s membership also draws from the various community sectors; education, local government, law enforcement, juvenile justice, social services, health services, parent groups, students, religious and business leaders, and the media.

Funding for the Coalition is made possible through a grant from the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services in partnership with Center for Prevention and Counseling of Sussex County. For more information please contact the Coalition Coordinator, Mary Jo Harris at 908-223-1985, Ext. 304.

Prevention Connections is currently implementing a federal Drug Free Communities Support Grant (DFC) which seeks to prevent and reduce the use and abuse of alcohol and marijuana by youth. The goals and objectives of the grant are to use a Strategic Planning Framework to implement strategies that will be sustainable and effect environmental change in the Warren Hills Regional school district.

Finally, Prevention Connections also provides a Life Skills Training Program funded by The United Way of Northern NJ that provides adolescents and young teens with the confidence and skills necessary to successfully handle challenging situations. The Life Skills Training is a research-validated substance abuse prevention program proven to reduce the risks of alcohol, tobacco, drug abuse, and violence by targeting the major social and psychological factors that promote the initiation of substance use and other risky behaviors. The program provides training to teachers from grades three through high school throughout Warren County in order to integrate the Botvin Life Skills model into each school’s curriculum.

For more information about Prevention Connections please visit our website www.preventionconnectionsnj.org.