Health Education & Promotion

Substance Use Disorder Prevention

What is Substance Use Disorder?

Substance Use Disorder is a complex brain disease, including diseases such as alcoholism and drug addiction. Substance Use Disorder occurs when a person has a dependence on alcohol and/or drugs that is accompanied by intense and sometimes uncontrollable cravings and compulsive behaviors to obtain the substance.

Why is this a focus of the Kent County Health Department (KCHD)?

In Kent County, substance use remains a concern. Here are some key findings from the 2020 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA):

  • In 2020, 13.5% of Kent County residents reported current cigarette use. In 2019, 7.0% of mothers in Kent County smoked while pregnant. Almost two-thirds of current smokers have tried to quit in the past year (60.3%).
  • Among youth, less than two percent of Kent County middle and high school-age students reported smoking cigarettes in the past 30 days. However, 6.7% of middle schoolers and 15.0% of high schoolers reported using e-cigarettes or vape products in the past 30 days.
  • Approximately 2.1% of Kent County adults reported heavy drinking (15 or more drinks per week for men or 8 or more drinks per week for women) and 15.8% reported binge drinking (5 or more drinks on an occasion for men or 4 or more drinks on an occasion for women).
  • When looking at youth alcohol use, 12% of high school students reported using alcohol in the past 30 days. Additionally, 4% of middle schoolers reported using alcohol in the past 30 days.
  • Adult use marijuana was legalized in Michigan in 2018 although it is still illegal at the federal level. Use is increasing while the perception of how harmful it can be is declining. Among adults, 16.1% reported using marijuana in the past 30 days and 9.4% reported using it on 14 or more days. Just under half (44.3%) of those who used marijuana in the past 30 days reported using it for both medical and non-medical reasons. The most common way of using it was smoking (75.5%) followed by eating (10.4%) and vaping (6.9%).
  • In Kent County, 12.7% of high school students and 3.5% of middle school students reported using marijuana in the past 30 days. One in three high school students reported that it was sort of easy or very easy to get marijuana (38.8%) and 13.9% of middle school students thought it was easy to get marijuana.

The Kent County Medical Examiner recorded 84 opioid related overdose deaths in 2020. This is an increase of one death from 2019. Overdoses were highest among adults 25- 44 years of age, males, and Whites. Prescription opioids were involved in 10 deaths (12%) and 27 deaths involved heroin. However, 96% of the heroin overdoses also involved fentanyl.

How is KCHD addressing this issue?

Research shows that early intervention can prevent many adolescent risk behaviors. KCHD offers Botvin LifeSkills Training, a research-validated substance abuse prevention program, to schools and other organizations throughout the county. KCHD also is one of many organizations that are part of the Community Health Improvement Plan - a community effort to improve concerns found in the CHNA.

Substance Use Disorder Prevention Initiatives Offered by KCHD

Botvin LifeSkills Training - Elementary School

This 11-session curriculum focuses on improving students’ drug resistance, personal self-management, and general social skills to reduce the likelihood they will use or abuse substances. Topics include: tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs, effective communication, conflict resolution, and dealing with peer pressure. Each session is 45-60 minutes in length and includes a number of activities and exercises to maintain participants’ interest. The Botvin LifeSkills Training program is listed on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices.

Sharon Schmidt | Sharon.Schmidt@kentcountymi.gov

Botvin LifeSkills Training - Middle School

This 17-session curriculum improves students’ social and decision-making skills to reduce the likelihood they will use alcohol, marijuana, tobacco and other drugs. The curriculum is targeted to youth in 6th through 8th grades and provides information on a variety of drugs, effective communication skills, decision-making, goal setting, coping with anxiety and other topics. Each session is approximately 1 hour in length and includes a number of activities and exercises to maintain participants’ interest and actively engage them in the presentation. The Botvin LifeSkills Training program is listed on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices.

Lauren Czarnowczan | Lauren.Czarnowczan@kentcountymi.gov

Botvin LifeSkills Training – High School

This 13-session curriculum improves students’ personal self- management skills, general social skills, and drug resistance skills. The curriculum is targeted to youth in 9th and 10th grades and provides information focusing on all aspects of health – physical, social, mental, and emotional. Other topics address the media, risk taking and substances, managing stress, anger, and other emotions, family communication, along with healthy relationships. Each session is approximately 40-45 minutes in length and includes a variety of activities and exercises to maintain participants’ interest.

The Botvin LifeSkills Training program is listed on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices.

Kara Felder | Kara.Felder@kentcountymi.gov

Botvin LifeSkills Training - Transitions

The Botvin LifeSkills Training Transitions program is a highly interactive, skills-based program designed to promote positive health and personal development. This program helps older adolescents navigate the transition from high school into the workforce and higher education. The LifeSkills Training Transitions program helps students achieve competency in the skills that not only are key to success, but also have been found to reduce and prevent substance use and violence.

This program is designed to be implemented in 11 th or 12 th grade classrooms, or in community or afterschool settings. The Transitions Program consists of 6 class sessions (approximately 40-45 minutes each session). The program can be taught either on an intensive schedule (two to three times a week until the program is complete) or on a more extended schedule (once a week for 6 weeks). The Transitions program can be provided in addition to the Botvin LifeSkills Training High School program.

Yo Puedo

The Yo Puedo/I Can program is an alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs (ATOD) prevention program that services youth in 7 th through 12 th grades. It runs from October through May and it is offered once a week for 26 weeks at each location. The program includes topics such as ATOD prevention, healthy relationships, peer pressure, and refusal skills.

This program equips students with skills for college, vocational and trade school and, at the high school level, the program also offers educational field trips to colleges, universities, community colleges and vocational schools in the Kent County area, as well as a weeklong summer project for interested students.

A parenting component has been added to serve and support the parents of program participants in their educational endeavors. The parenting program is offered free of cost and has three, two-hour sessions. English and Spanish versions are available, and it is offered in- person or online.

Angel Rodriguez | Angel.Rodriguez@kentcountymi.gov

Substance Use Disorder Resources

Fact Sheets