Alcohol and Other Drugs


Large numbers of Americans have abused alcohol and drugs, behaviors that can result in serious health problems and social consequences. Persons who abuse alcohol and other drugs, or who are addicted to them, may often benefit from intervention/treatment programs designed to break the cycle of abuse/addiction. To be effective, these programs must be easily accessible and based on individual needs.

Adolescents who use alcohol and other drugs are especially at risk of addiction and other serious problems. An estimated one in four adolescents who have tried alcohol and other drugs are at risk of addiction, school failure, early unwanted pregnancy, or delinquency. Alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana are considered Agateway@ drugs, i.e., drugs that are commonly perceived to lead to further substance abuse. The younger a youth is when he/she starts using, the more likely that he/she will become addicted. Children under the age of fifteen at first use are twice as likely to become dependent.

A full range of treatment services is available for adults, provided primarily by 14 community behavioral health centers in the









4.1 Reduce harm to youth caused by early use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs

See Objective Update

4.2 Establish plans to ensure access to alcohol and drug treatment programs

See Objective Update

4.3 Extend alcohol and drug policies to 60% of worksites

No data available

state. Treatment options include specialized outpatient services; three short-term and one long-term residential programs; a residential detoxification program; acute inpatient stabilization services for the dually diagnosed; seven transitional living facilities; specialized programs for women, and two community-based, multipurpose residential treatment programs, with a third under development. Specialized adolescent treatment is available through regional youth specialists and other professionals at various centers. Five centers offer intensive outpatient programs for adolescents. The state contracts with a private provider to provide residential treatment for those adolescents with no source of payment. The Division on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, located within the Office of Behavioral Health Services, also provides support for two adolescent group homes.

The Objectives

OBJECTIVE 4.1 Reduce the harm to youth and adolescents caused by early use of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and other drugs. (Increase by at least one year the average age of first use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs by adolescents.)

UPDATE The West Virginia Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) conducted by the WV Department of Education collects information on first use of alcohol or other drugs, as well as frequency of use among state high school students (grades 9-12). YRBS data for 1995 indicate over three-fourths (76%) of the students had tried cigarette smoking; 54% were 14 or younger at the time. Forty-three percent (43%) of survey respondents had smoked cigarettes during the month preceding the interview. Smokeless tobacco products were used by 35% of the male teens surveyed in 1995. (Age of first use of smokeless tobacco was not asked.)

According to YRBS data, 81% of all students surveyed in 1995 had drunk alcohol at some time in their lives. Over one-half (52%) reported having used alcohol during the preceding month. Over one-fourth (28%) of the respondents reported having had their first drink of alcohol at age 13.

Approximately four in ten (43%) YRBS respondents in 1995 reported having used marijuana at least once. Twenty-six percent (26%) had used it during the preceding month. One-fourth (25%) of the students first tried marijuana at age 14 or younger.

OBJECTIVE 4.2 Establish and monitor comprehensive plans to ensure access to alcohol and drug treatment programs for traditionally underserved people.

UPDATE A comprehensive substance abuse treatment plan for the state has been developed by the Division on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. The plan addressed the needs and gaps in services for state residents, including traditionally underserved populations. The plan is updated on a regular basis based on ongoing review of the state's service system.

The state continues to reach out to underserved populations through a more accessible continuum of care, with a more extensive variety of services available on the local and regional levels. Specialized services for women and adolescents are available and are being expanded to meet identified needs. Based on an evaluation of the program, the residential treatment program for the dually diagnosed is being moved from a segregated unit to an integrated model within the general psychiatric population.

OBJECTIVE 4.3 Extend adoption of alcohol and drug policies for the work environment to at least 60% of worksites with 50 or more employees.

UPDATE No data are available yet for this objective. A statewide worksite survey conducted under the auspices of West Virginia University that will collect baseline data is scheduled to begin in the spring of 1997. The Division on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse continues to contract with a private provider to develop joint union-management programs in businesses and worksites throughout the state.

Meeting the Objectives

Health Promotion Channels for Achieving

Public Health Programs
Health Care System
Higher Education

The Division of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse has been designated by the state legislature as the lead agency for the prevention and treatment of substance abuse. The division has also been designated by the federal government as the Single State Agency (SSA) for substance abuse. As such, it is the recipient of a Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment (SAPT) Block Grant.

Other state agencies that are involved in substance abuse prevention and the enforcement of related laws include Criminal Justice and Highway Safety, the Department of Education, the State Police, the National Guard, and the Bureau for Public Health's Division of Health Promotion. Each agency involved in substance abuse prevention offers a portion of a statewide continuum of services, ranging from school-based programs to comprehensive community-based programming and using the health promotion channels to the communities listed on the previous page.

Prevention specialists include Drug-Free Schools Coordinators, Drug-Free Communities, Tobacco Control programs, and Community Development Specialists for Substance Abuse Prevention (CDSSAPs). Prevention-related education/information materials are available through the WV Library Commission. The primary funding for the state's prevention programming comes from the SAPT Block Grant, the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Block Grant, and various sources of funding for tobacco control.

The various programs available throughout the state address the various factors implicated in substance abuse. For example, it has been found that a strong family unit is the most effective prevention tool; therefore, several parenting programs are offered, such as Preparing for the Drug-Free Years. Community programs work with schools to develop comprehensive prevention programming. Schools offer not only education about the effects of drug abuse but also normative education and refusal skill building. Student assistance and peer helper programs are available. Local, regional, and statewide Teen Institutes prepare youth to be peer leaders. The CDSSAPs work with Drug-Free Schools Coordinators and Drug-Free Communities to develop comprehensive prevention programming.

Many communities have passed clean indoor air regulations. Communities have also provided pressure on local law enforcement agencies to enforce laws pertaining to driving while intoxicated and youth access to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. The legislature has passed a zero tolerance law, under which any person under 21 caught driving with a blood alcohol level of .02 or above is considered intoxicated.

The Division on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse is in its third year of a statewide needs assessment that will provide information on prevention needs around the state.

Alcohol and Other Drugs - Meeting the Objectives

Lead Entity:
Division on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse
Office of Behavioral Health Services

Collaborating Entities:
CREATE for a Drug-Free WV; Criminal Justice and Highway Division; WV National Guard; Dept. Of Education/Drug-Free Schools; Division of Public Safety; Appalachia Educational Laboratory; Division of Health Promotion, WVBPH; WV Library Commission; WV College of Graduate Studies

Plan Coordinator:
Jack C. Clohan, Jr., Director
Division on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse
Office of Behavioral Health Services, DHHR
(304) 558-2276/FAX (304) 558-1008

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