The Cobb Community Alliance to Prevent Substance Abuse (CCAPSA), a 501c3 organization, was established to address alcohol, tobacco and other substance use in Cobb County. Through the collaborative efforts of our partners and friends, we provide a comprehensive approach to combat and prevent the onset of abusive substance usage.
We began our prevention work in 1999 as the Cobb Underage Drinking Taskforce. The Taskforce utilized the Strategic Prevention Framework to better understand the prevalence and impacts of youth alcohol use in our community and to identify the factors and norms supporting use. Community partnerships were formed and a number of evidence based strategies were implemented to reduce underage drinking by addressing three areas of concern: 1) reducing the unacceptably high level of illegal commercial sales of alcohol to minors, 2) increasing government and education organizations’ use of best practices to deter youth from using alcohol and 3) changing the social norms that support underage drinking. Our coalition has been able to achieve measurable success and accomplish change related to youth access to alcohol by identifying and influencing community risk and protective factors.
In 2014, the Board of Directors voted to broaden the scope of our work to include other substances and change our name to the Cobb Community Alliance to Prevent Substance Abuse, Inc. A variety of factors led to this decision. Our ongoing community assessments identified a number of concerning trends including:
- marked increases in reported incidences of prescription drug abuse, heroin use and overdose fatalities;
- declining perception of harm of marijuana use among middle and high school students and parents;
- increased accessibility & attractiveness of nicotine products along with a low perception of harm by teens and their families.
Emerging research and a greater understanding of the disease model of addiction about the disruption of growth and development of the youth brain in response to any substance use was making clear that our single focus on alcohol was valuable, but insufficient to address the broader needs of the community with respect to preventing the onset of youth substance use and abuse. With a 41% increase in overdose deaths in Cobb County from 2010-2015, our decision to address other substances was timely and critical.