Drug-Free Communities Support Program

Preventing Youth Substance Use is Critical

The Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program is the nation’s leading effort to mobilize communities to prevent and reduce substance use among youth. Created in 1997 by the Drug-Free Communities Act, administered by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), and managed through a partnership between ONDCP and CDC, the DFC program provides grants to community coalitions to strengthen the infrastructure among local partners to create and sustain a reduction in local youth substance use.

The DFC program is aimed at mobilizing community leaders to identify and respond to the drug problems unique to their community and change local community environmental conditions tied to substance use. More than 700 community coalitions across the country receive funding up to $125,000 per year to strengthen collaboration among local partners and create an infrastructure that reduces youth substance use.

The DFC program goals are to:

  • Establish and strengthen collaboration among communities, public and private non-profit agencies, and Federal, state, local and tribal governments to support the efforts of community coalitions working to prevent and reduce substance use among youth.
  • Reduce substance use among youth and, over time, reduce substance use among adults by addressing the factors in a community that increase risk for substance use and promoting factors that minimize risk for substance use.

In coordination with the DFC Support Program, Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) Local Drug Crisis grants provide funds to 65 communities to enhance DFC efforts by creating sustainable community-level change to prevent and reduce the use of illicit opioids or methamphetamine and the misuse of prescription medications among youth.

Click here for a complete list of the DFC coalitions

Drug-Free Communities Coalitions

Substances Targeted by Coalitions

DFC Coalitions reported targeting the following substances in 2020:

  • Alcohol use
  • Marijuana use
  • Prescription drug misuse
  • Tobacco/nicotine use
  • Heroin and fentanyl use
  • Methamphetamine use

Local Problems, Local Solutions

A Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Coalition is a community-based formal arrangement for cooperation and collaboration among community groups or sectors. Each group retains its identity and agrees to work together toward a common goal.

Representatives from 12 sectors organize and meet to address local youth substance use. Together, as a coalition, they are driven by local conditions to implement local solutions that will build a safe, healthy, and drug-free community.

The 12 sectors are:

  • youth
  • parents
  • business
  • media
  • school
  • youth-serving organizations
  • law enforcement
  • religious or fraternal organizations
  • civic or volunteer groups
  • healthcare professional or organizations
  • state, local, and tribal government agencies
  • and other local organizations involved in reducing substance use

DFC coalitions select at least two substances their coalition will focus on targeting in their community. Most DFC coalitions reported targeting efforts to address use of alcohol, marijuana, tobacco products, and misuse of any prescription drug.

Addressing Environmental Conditions

Seven Strategies to Affect Community Change
  1. Provide information
  2. Enhance skills
  3. Provide support
  4. Enhance access/reduce barriers
  5. Change consequence
  6. Change physical design
  7. Modify or change policies

Coalitions’ activities are guided by the Strategic Prevention Framework [PDF] and the Seven Strategies to Affect Community Change. These frameworks acknowledge that environmental contexts impact the risk of youth substance use. In assessing the complex environmental contexts, we recognize that the way communities are structured affects our health. By understanding environmental contexts, coalitions can better address risk factors for youth substance use and ensure their communities are places where youth can thrive.

Ultimately, these strategic frameworks help coalitions limit access to substances, change the culture and context within which decisions about substance use are made, and shift the consequences associated with substance use.

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