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Take a Step

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You may be asking yourself how you can help with the problems of addiction and substance abuse and their ill effects on society. Here are some ideas to help you turn your desire to help into action steps.

The Take a Step Day Campaign

Take a Step at Work

Step: Find out if your company has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). If so, become familiar with the services it provides. If your company doesn't have an EAP because of cost issues, suggest that it obtain a low-cost group EAP through a consortium. Also check your health insurance plan, and lobby your company for a plan that covers substance abuse treatment.

The National Drugs Don't Work Partnership at (703) 706-0578 can provide information about low-cost EAP consortiums for small and medium-sized businesses.

Step: Institute or suggest a program for preventing and dealing with substance abuse at your workplace. Explore what other businesses are doing.

Employers can obtain prevention-oriented ads, posters, tapes, and other materials and advice on setting up a workplace substance abuse program by calling the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) Workplace Helpline at (800) WORKPLACE or the Partnership for A Drug-Free America at (212) 922-1560.

Take a Step for Your Community

Step: The welfare of your community depends on your involvement. Get to know your neighbors, perhaps by organizing a block party. Talk to them about areas of shared concern.

Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America promotes and facilitates local, comprehensive responses to drug-related problems. Call them at (800) 54-CADCA to find out the ways in which they can help you help your community. Request the "Volunteer Today" pamphlet for a list of resources and local coalitions.

Step: Schedule meetings with elected and appointed officials in your community. Ask them about their plans to reduce levels of substance abuse, such as improving prevention and treatment services.

Join Together, at (617) 437-1500, is a national nonprofit group dedicated to facilitating cooperation between various segments of a community in order to combat the ills of substance abuse.

Step: Work with local merchants and police to make sure that stores are complying with the law and not selling cigarettes or liquor to minors.

For a copy of "Implementing the Synar Regulation: Strategies for Reducing Sales of Tobacco Products to Minors," write to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville, MD 20857.


Step: Contact your local cable television provider and work with local access stations to televise town meetings, debates, and forums concerning substance abuse and addiction. Take positive stories to the media to draw attention to the fact that the majority of young people live happy and creative lives without the use of drugs.

CSAP can provide you with a packet of media and communication tools that will assist you in writing Letters to the Editor, op-ed pieces, and public service announcements. Request the "Making Prevention Work" packet by calling (800) 729-6686.

Step: Find out where substance abuse prevention fits into the curriculum at your local schools. Make sure prevention efforts begin early and continue throughout the educational system. Find out whether the current prevention program has been shown to be effective. Ensure your community provides a wide variety of drug- and alcohol-free recreational and cultural activities for your kids.

The Benton Foundation operates a Web site (www.kidscampaign.org) that can help you get information to help you build a better community for kids. The Foundation can also be reached at (202) 638-5770.

Step: Learn as much as you can about all aspects of the drug policy debate.

The Join Together Web site (www.jointogether.org) offers current news stories about alcohol, drug, and tobacco issues and an accessible database of 70,000 concerned individuals and organizations.

Step: Include people in recovery in community meetings on substance abuse and addiction.

The Legal Action Center, at (212) 243-1313, is a law and policy organization that advocates for individuals with drug and alcohol problems and HIV disease and the programs that serve them.

-- Ben Alsup

This article is an excerpt from the Viewer's Guide for MOYERS ON ADDICTION: CLOSE TO HOME, produced by Thirteen/WNET's Educational Publishing Department. The entire guide is available, free of charge, by downloading it to your computer or requesting a copy by mail.

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