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Preventing Substance Abuse Community-wide

When a parent calls you and asks, “What did you do? My kid is being nice at home and helping out around here,” you know you’re doing something right. And that something right for the Dallas, Texas, office of the national non-profit substance abuse prevention agency, Phoenix House, is PA.

It has worked especially well in Terrell, Texas. Phoenix House recognizes that families play an essential role in preventing drug use in youth, and PA supports their efforts to involve families.

“One of our most successful communities, Terrell, has adopted the Positive Action program in total—teaching the concepts and behaviors in the schools and adopting those practices in families and in the community. We could hardly believe the level of commitment and accomplishment from this community,” shares Diana Burns, Director of Program Planning.

The Terrell community recognized that its children were at stake and took action—Positive Action—to find a solution. The resulting positive environment spread through the community, reducing incidents of substance use and improving the lives of individuals and families in an unprecedented way. “It turns out that a positive environment, which includes families, schools, and communities, is profoundly important for young people,” says Burns.

In addition to Terrell, Phoenix House is using PA throughout Texas to reach 15,000 children with universal, preventive drug education, and they also have programs for selected and indicated populations.

“Positive Action dovetails with our mission and our language. We teach and encourage positive behaviors—it’s part of our mission statement,” says Burns. “With Positive Action, you get a U.S. Department of Education-approved character program that also improves academics… That’s absolutely great.”