Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Program to Aim at Kids' Use of Alcohol $3 Million Grant to Fund UNF Prevention Effort

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Program to Aim at Kids' Use of Alcohol $3 Million Grant to Fund UNF Prevention Effort

Article excerpt

Some middle school students in the Jacksonville area will participate in a new alcohol abuse prevention program next school year, thanks to a $3 million grant to the University of North Florida's Center for Drug Prevention and Health Promotion.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a division of the National Institutes of Health, awarded the grant, which will fund a five-year initiative to prevent alcohol abuse among youth, according to center director Chudley Werch.

The subject matter is nothing new for the UNF center, which has been studying alcohol abuse prevention strategies for several years.

The new program will begin as a pilot study in one Clay or Duval County school to be chosen within the next few weeks. Students will have one-on-one consultations for 20 minutes with a nurse to assess their behaviortoward alcohol.

Also, health screening questionnaires will be incorporated into students' annual sports physicals to address possible substance abuse, said Deborah Owen, a research associate at the center.

Individually tailored discussions are an effective way to address alcohol use patterns, Werch said, because "kids go through stages of initiation into alcohol and other drug use."

While some young people may be only thinking about starting to use alcohol, others may be experimenting and still others regular users, Werch said.

Barbara Mollitt, a registered nurse and education specialist at Baptist Medical Center who participated in a similar program run by the UNF center, said individual attention to students is a unique approach.

"Most of the other alcohol prevention programs, they put kids all in a big group together," she said.

After this year's pilot study, Werch said he hopes to run a two- to three-year program in as many as seven area schools. …

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