Category Archives: Substance Abuse Prevention

Tips on Sipping and Serving

The holiday season is just around the corner. That usually means parties, get-togethers and celebrations, and many of them will involve eating and drinking. It’s your responsibility as a guest or a host to manage each event without putting yourself or your guests in jeopardy. In honor of Red Ribbon Week, here are a few tips on how to be a responsible host and keep your guests safe:

PartyHosting an Adult Event Involving Alcohol:

  • Serve non-salty food before people start drinking. High protein foods and carbohydrates are best because they will fill people up and slow the absorption of alcohol. High protein snacks include cheese, meats and unsalted nuts; carbs include crackers and breads, pasta and fruit.
  • Drinking should not be a primary activity, and no one should be pressured to drink alcoholic beverages. Have non-alcoholic beverages available, attractively displayed and easily accessible. 
  • If you are serving pre-made drinks or punch with alcohol in it, label it as containing alcohol.
  • Ask friends and family (or employees if it’s a business function) to volunteer to be designated drivers in advance.
  • Do not encourage or tolerate excessive drinking. Don’t forget that anyone who serves alcohol to guests, employees or customers is liable for any consequences that may occur because of intoxication.
  • Stop serving alcohol at least an hour before the end of the event to give guests time to sober up. Only time will allow someone to become sober. Contrary to popular belief, coffee, exercise and cold showers do not sober someone up more quickly.

Hosting a Youth or Young Adult Event:

  • Do not serve alcohol or allow alcohol to be brought in if your guests are under age 21. It’s that simple. It’s illegal to serve alcohol to anyone under 21.
  • Plan the event with the youth so they can choose the food and non-alcoholic drinks they would like to have.
  • Themes often make a party more memorable and can help when picking out decorations, food and activities.
  • Assure other parents that the event will have adult supervision and no alcohol.

When You Are the Guest:

  • It is always okay to abstain from drinking alcohol, especially if you will be driving. Do someone else a favor and volunteer to be a designated driver.
  • If you usually drink, there are certain times when you should choose not to or at least drink less. Any time you drink, you should consider the following:
    • Body size: The smaller you are, the more impaired you will be after drinking because alcohol will affect you more.
    • Gender: Women experience greater impairment than men, especially around your period.
    • How fast you drink: Try to never drink more than one drink an hour. It takes your body about an hour to metabolize an ounce of alcohol.
    • Tired or sick: Alcohol will have a greater impact on you if you’re tired, sick or just getting over being sick. 
    • Medications: Alcohol can interact in serious and negative ways with many medications. Check with your pharmacist to find out whether this is the case with any prescription or over-the-counter medications you take. 
    • Empty stomach: Food slows down absorption of alcohol. Eat high protein foods like meat, fish or cheese before drinking.
    • Pregnant: If you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant, it is best not to drink alcohol.

National studies estimate that one out of every seven drivers on a Friday or Saturday night are impaired, driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or other drugs. This number increases over any holiday period. Almost half of all traffic fatalities are alcohol-related. Make sure you do contribute to these statistics. 

mocktailHere are a few recipes for non-alcoholic “mocktails.” Whip up a batch for your next party!

Margarita Mocktail

Mix ¼ cup sour drink mix, a splash of lime juice, a splash of lemon juice and ice in a blender. Blend until icy and smooth. Dip the rim of a glass in lime juice and then salt before pouring the drink in the glass. Serve with a wedge of lime.

Coco Colada

In a blender, add 1 cup of ice, 4 oz of pineapple juice and 2 oz of coconut cream. Blend until slushy and drain into a glass. Garnish with a piece of pineapple.

Virgin Mary

In a glass filled with ice, add 4 oz tomato juice, a dash of tabasco sauce, dash of Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with a celery stalk.

Cranberry Sparkler

Put several dried cranberries in a glass. Add lemon-lime club soda and a splash of cranberry juice.


SPF Series Kickoff: What It Is & Why We Use It

Give me an S…..S! Give me a P……P! Give me an F….F!

What does that spell?


You may be wondering – why all this commotion about “SPF?” What does it even mean?

Well, in the next few moments, we will try and answer that question for you!

041SPF stands for the Strategic Prevention Framework. The SPF is a model used to plan community level programs or projects. Community leaders, including state and federal prevention officers, use the SPF to help guide the strategies they use to prevent alcohol, tobacco and other drug (ATOD) use. This is also a great tool for Youth Action Teams to use when planning projects!

The SPF consists of 5 steps. Here’s a fun and easy way to remember all the steps of the SPF.


Think of it as the ABCs of the SPF PIE:


The first step of the SPF involves assessing your community’s needs by gathering and analyzing data to identify and address local problems and resources. By identifying the real needs of your community, you are able to plan programs and projects that are appropriate interventions and will actually make a difference.

BC=Building Capacity

The next step of the SPF is capacity building, or as we refer to it, building capacity. This step is important because it involves identifying what resources are available in your community and deciding how you might be able to use each resource to meet program or project goals.


Planning is the third step of the SPF and is where you will spend most of your time. In this phase, you develop a logical, data-driven plan with evidence-based policies, programs and practices to address problems identified in the community assessment.


The fourth step, implementation, simply means to carry out the program or project or take action based on the plan you created in the Planning stage. Implementation takes place on the day of your project or over the course of your program or campaign. It includes all the activities that are a part of your project plan, including your evaluation.


The evaluation process not only includes determining how well your project went and measuring its impact, but whether or not it accomplished what you intended. The evaluation process should help you decide if your program, strategy, or project should be terminated or replaced, improved for next time, or done over and over again.

Don’t forget… the SPF also involves two important elements for effective and successful prevention initiatives.

These two elements are sustainability link and cultural competence. You should address these in every step to ensure that your efforts are designed to last and meet the diverse needs of your community.

Why We Use the SPF:

RUS_6345 (2)At GUIDE, we use the SPF in everything we do, whether it is for our Alcohol Prevention Project, various conferences and trainings we are planning, Georgia Teen Institute, social media campaigns or simply the general operation of our office and staff.

Why do we use the SPF? We use the SPF because it proves to be a very useful tool to help us be successful in all of our endeavors. By using the Strategic Prevention Framework, we are able to identify and assess the key issues and problems in our community, build long-lasting connections with diverse partners, have access to abundant resources we can use to address different issues, plan and implement evidence-based strategies, reach our goals and learn how to improve and make things better than before.

We also have the opportunity to share our knowledge and experiences of using the SPF with youth and adults around the state to teach them how to create sustainable and effective projects to better their community.

To better acquaint you with the SPF process, we will be writing a series of blogs about the SPF over the next several months. Stay tuned for our next post on Assessment coming in November!

Red Ribbon Week Project Idea: Boo Bags

Boo to DrugsWondering what goodies you can give away at your local Trunk or Treat or from your door on Halloween? We’ve got a great idea for you. This project would be a great addition to your Red Ribbon Week festivities or to add onto a Fall Festival or Health Fair, too. 

For this project, you’ll put together small goody bags with candy or other items and attach tags with messages associated with the goodies in the bags. Candy should be individually wrapped. Avoid chocolates because they melt. Small clear or colorful cellophane bags can be purchased with seasonal themes and cards can be tied to ribbon to close the bags. They can also be assembled by simply using sandwich baggies with the cards inside or taped to the outside.

Here are some suggestions for what you could include in these, “Say Boo to Drugs” bags

Bags contain: Starbursts, Tootsie Rolls, Dum Dum lollipops, Smarties and a Blow Pop. 

The attached cards with Halloween themes read: 

  • I’m a “smartie” – I stay drug-free!
  • I reach for the “stars” – not drugs!
  • I’m no “dum-dum”…alcohol is not for me!
  • Drinking has no “roll” in my life!
  • I’m not going to “blow” it by using alcohol, tobacco or other drugs!

Use your imagination to come up with more ideas using small items or other candies.

Here are some other ideas:

  • IMG_7258Candy corn (Being drug free isn’t “corny”)
  • Bubble gum (I chew “gum,” not tobacco)
  • Riesen (My future is the “riesen” I’m drug-free)
  • Peanut M&Ms (You’d have to be “nuts” to use drugs)
  • Life Savers (Be a “life saver” – help your friends stay drug free)
  • Small high bounce ball (I can “bounce” back from problems without drinking)

If you want a free printable of these goody bag tags, click here

If you use our printables or create your own, let us know! We’d love to know where and how these are being distributed and if you’ve got other ideas about what candies or toys you could include with drug-free messages! 

Healthy Relaxation Techniques for Youth Stress

Today’s youth face more stress than ever before. From academic stress including classes, homework, papers, grades and growing competition to family stress including parent expectations, conflicts, siblings and changes in structure, youth feel stress in numerous aspects of their life. Because youth are not equipped with effective relaxation techniques, they sometimes rely on unhealthy responses, like illegal drugs and alcohol use. Partnership for a Drug Free America states that 73% of teenagers reported school stress as the primary reason for drug use. Youth are often seeking psychological or physical pleasure, but are not aware of how dangerous drug use can be, especially prescription drugs not prescribed to the individual. In a recent study, young adults stated they use prescription drugs to study, deal with problems and feel better. To learn more about stress and it’s correlation to drug and alcohol use, The Medicine Abuse Project is a great resource. 


According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, other common factors that cause stress in youth include the following:

  • Negative thoughts and feelings about themselves
  • School demands and frustrations
  • Changes in their bodies
  • Problems with friends and/or peers at school
  • Unsafe living environment/neighborhood
  • Separation or divorce of parents
  • Chronic illness or severe problems in the family
  • Meath of a loved one
  • Moving or changing schools
  • Taking on too many activities or having too high expectations
  • Family financial problems

A lot of youth are not equipped with the stress management tools to effectively handle the large amounts of stress they face daily. If stress is not managed effectively, it can lead to negative self-talk, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, aggression, physical illness and illegal drug and alcohol use. When the human brain responds to stress, a physiological response occurs in both our brain and throughout our body. This is known as the “fight or flight” response that includes an increase in heart rate, blood pressure and production of adrenaline. The response may also cause upset stomach and cold or clammy hands and feet.

The Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital focuses copious amounts of research on Relaxation Response. There, Dr. Herbert Benson’s research indicates that the relaxation response is just as important for the body as the original stress response. Once the individual decides the stressful situation is no longer dangerous, the brain and body help us begin to relax. This includes a decrease in each response, especially a reduction in blood pressure. Youth who practice relaxation techniques have been shown to be healthier, happier and calmer. Just by learning to take a deep breath before a stressful situation, youth can be better prepared throughout their lives to handle any stress triggers they are facing.

Fortunately, parents and those working with youth can help aid in the reduction of stress. According to Stress Free Kids, adults can help youth in the following ways:

  • Monitor if stress is affecting their teen’s health, behavior, thoughts, or feelings.
  • Listen carefully to teens and watch for overloading.
  • Learn and model stress management skills.
  • Support involvement in sports and other pro-social activities.

Teens can help themselves by decreasing stress with the following behaviors and techniques:

  • Avoid illegal drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.
  • Exercise and eat regularly.
  • Avoid excess caffeine intake, which can increase feelings of anxiety and agitation.
  • Learn relaxation exercises (abdominal breathing and muscle relaxation techniques).
  • Develop assertiveness training skills. For example, state feelings in polite and firm and not overly aggressive or passive ways such as “I feel angry when you yell at me,” and “Please stop yelling.”
  • Rehearse and practice situations which cause stress. One example is taking a speech class if talking in front of a class makes you anxious.
  • Learn practical coping skills. For example, break a large task into smaller, more attainable tasks.
  • Decrease negative self talk: challenge negative thoughts about yourself with alternative neutral or positive thoughts. “My life will never get better” can be transformed into “My life will get better if I work at it and get some help.”
  • Learn to feel good about doing a competent or “good enough” job rather than demanding perfection from yourself and others.
  • Take a break from stressful situations. Activities like listening to music, talking to a friend, drawing, writing, or spending time with a pet can reduce stress.
  • Learn to say “no.” It is important for youth to understand they do not have to participate in everything they are asked to do.
  • Get enough sleep. Youth need as much sleep as small children, about 10 hours each night.
  • Build a network of friends who help you cope in a positive way.

Learning relaxation exercises including abdominal breathing and muscle relaxation techniques are skills that all youth should be equipped with. They can practice them before a big test or during a stressful family situation. PTSD Online Coach provides online resources to help work on worry and anxiety. By utilizing the following techniques and practicing them often, youth will be one step closer to feeling less stress:

  1. Be in the present moment.
  2. Put your phone away.
  3. Sit with your feet flat on the floor and put your hand on your thighs.
  4. Keep your head straight ahead.
  5. Close your eyes.
  6. Focus on counting.
  7. Feel the inhale and exhale.
  8. Note your stray thoughts and release them.
  9. You are in a safe place.
  10. Ignore everything around you.
  11. Breathe in/out.
  12. Up to your nose, out to your diaphragm (3 min.) try to get to 10 minutes.

By utilizing these and other techniques that are effective for the individual person, youth can and will begin to properly manage stress. Working with them to identify what works best will set them up for a lifetime of success in handling stressful situations. With Red Ribbon Week around the corner, we hope you will adopt drug-free relaxation techniques, as well as share them with youth in your life and encourage the same positive, healthy behaviors.

Marijuana & Rx Drug Abuse: Myths and Issues

As you may know, in honor of Red Ribbon Week, GUIDE is leading Walk the Talks at different parks around Gwinnett County this month!

We are having our second Walk the Talk today where we discuss the myths and issues around marijuana use and prescription drug misuse and abuse.

TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE to see what you know about marijuana and prescription drugs.

  1. Marijuana is not harmful.

True or False?

  1. Marijuana is addictive.

True or False?

  1. Marijuana must be smoked or eaten to receive medical benefits.

True or False?

  1. One in five kids who reports having misused or abused a prescription drug has done so before the age of 16.

True or False?

  1. Every 19 minutes, someone dies from overdose deaths in the United States.

True or False?



  1. False- Marijuana is more harmful than you think!

According to SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana):

  • There has been an increase in ER visits because of marijuana use.
  • “Marijuana use directly affects the brain, specifically the parts responsible for memory, learning, attention, and reaction time. These effects can last up to 28 days.”
  • Studies show marijuana is related to dropping out of schools and subsequent unemployment.
  • A study in 2012 found that, among the adolescents who used marijuana persistently and heavily, their IQ dropped by as much as eight points.
  • Marijuana use doubles the risk of car accidents.

Graphic 1

If you take a look at this infographic from National Families in Action, it illustrates data about the problems Colorado had with marijuana even before it was legally sold. School expulsions, ER visits, and pot-related charges all increased.

Their data also shows that marijuana use has doubled and belief in harm has plummeted since the drive to legalize marijuana as medicine began.


  1. True- Marijuana is addictive.
    • 1 in 10 people who try marijuana will become addicted and experience withdrawal and cravings from the dependence.
    • The chances for addiction are 1 in 6 if marijuana use starts in adolescence.
  1. False- Marijuana does not have to be smoked or eaten in order for someone to receive any medical benefits. Many people don’t realize that certain components of the plant can be extracted and delivered safely in a pill form without the dangerous effects of THC.

Even scientific and medical communities say that smoked marijuana is not medicine.

In many places with medical marijuana dispensaries, there are edibles, various edible food products infused with marijuana, which have created problems and can have dangerous effects.

Graphic 2






  1. False- According to the Medicine Abuse Project, “one in five kids who reports having misused or abused a prescription drug has done so before the age of 14.”

Graphic 3Prescription (Rx) drug abuse is another issue affecting our young people, and its abuse is increasing nationally. Some even call it an epidemic, which is shown in the infographic from



  1. True- “One person dies every 19 minutes from overdose deaths in the United States.” 

Abusing Rx drugs is dangerous and can be fatal from overdose, mixing different medications together, and/or mixing prescription drugs with alcohol.

The Think About It campaign tells us that family and friends are the biggest suppliers of abuse prescription drugs.


So…what can we do?

We can help fight this epidemic of prescription drug misuse and abuse.

Learn more about the different ways you can help prevent prescription drug abuse by safely storing and disposing of your medications.

Graphic 4

For more resources and information, see the GA Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Initiative.

The Truth about Youth… Alcohol Use

IMG_3373 (1)On any given Friday during the school year, social media lights up about the upcoming weekend events and parties. Word spreads quickly and plans are excitedly made.  

On Monday, stories are told of where students went over the weekend and what they did. Often the stories that are perpetuated are the ones where there were drinking and wild, dangerous or, at best, sketchy things that happened. Because these are the stories that tend to be repeated over and over, it often is perceived that “everyone” was there and “everyone” was drinking. 

Misperceptions are created through these types of stories. Teens actually think that most of their peers party and drink. Teens who do not drink alcohol often start drinking because they feel pressured to fit in with what they think is the norm. This is why it is so important that everyone knows that MOST teens in Gwinnett County do NOT drink alcohol. In the latest youth survey conducted in Gwinnett, only 19% of 9-12th grade students reported that they drank alcohol in the last 30 days. 

These misperceptions are not just among students. In a recent survey conducted among parents and other adults in Gwinnett, 75% of the respondents believed that a majority of teens in the county had a drink of alcohol in the last 30 days. This means that parents and other adults believe that a LOT more teens are drinking than really are. They also believe that most parents of teens let them drink at home and allow them to go to parties where alcohol will be served. The fact is that among the teens in Gwinnett who drank in the past month, only about half of them said their parents allowed them to drink at home. That means that about 90% of the teens in Gwinnett have parents who do NOT let them drink at home. Parents and other adults should know that the norm in Gwinnett is NOT allowing underage drinking.

While this is good news, it’s important to note that youth who drink usually do so at their homes or at the homes of friends. These parents may believe that allowing their teens to drink at home will result in more responsible, lower risk drinking behaviors. The opposite is true. It actually encourages alcohol use. Research shows that allowing adolescents to drink alcohol under adult supervision leads to more drinking and more alcohol-related consequences. 

We all need to share the truth about youth and alcohol use. The majority of our youth choose NOT to drink alcohol, and MOST parents do not allow their teens to drink at home and/or go to parties where alcohol is served. To those parents, we say a big THANK YOU… for being parents and NOT bartenders!

By getting the word out, we can correct the misperceptions that lead some teens to feel that they have to drink to fit in and make some parents think they have to allow it.

Interested in prevention and want to get involved? Check out what GUIDE is doing for Red Ribbon Week 2014 and join the action:

Join GUIDE in Celebrating Red Ribbon Week 2014

Paint GA RedSave the date! Red Ribbon Week is right around the corner, from October 23-31. Year after year we celebrate this special campaign to share with our peers and community the significance of being drug free. The National Red Ribbon Campaign serves as a catalyst to mobilize communities to educate youth and encourage participation in drug prevention activities. We at GUIDE are REALLY excited for Red Ribbon Week this year, and we hope you will show your support of a drug-free lifestyle and join in on the fun activities we have planned.

In 2014, GUIDE plans to celebrate Red Ribbon Week all month long. For the whole month of October, we are celebrating by implementing our brand new campaign, Paint Georgia Red. The premise of the campaign is to get as many people as possible to represent their communities across the state of Georgia and tell us why they choose to wear red and be drug free. Using #31daysofred, we are asking YOU to post a photo of yourself on social media (Instagram, Twitter or Facebook) wearing red somewhere in your local community. You should tell us your name, where you are located and why you choose to be drug free. Please tag us (@guidegti on Twitter and Instagtam and @GUIDE, Inc. on Facebook) in your post and don’t forget to use #31daysofred — that’s the only way to ensure we will see your photos! If you aren’t on social media and still want to participate, please email your photo and description to

By the end of the campaign, we hope to have painted Georgia red by having as many counties and cities of Georgia represented with their drug-free support.

Here are some examples of what we are looking for:

photo 2 (27)Mandee Jablonski at Marietta Middle School in Marietta, GA – I wear red because I want my students to be the best they can be and always be drug free! #31daysofred

photo 1 (31)Elliott Walker in Smyrna, GA (Cobb County) – I wear red because I have so many lives to influence inside the classroom. #31daysofred

Wait! That’s not all! If you participate and provide all of the required information, you will be entered to win a pair of red Beats by Dre headphones AND $250 for your school, Youth Action Team or other organization that supports prevention. The winner will be chosen via a random drawing on Monday, November 3, 2014. Each complete entry will earn you a chance to win! We are accepting entries October 1-31. Scout out your locations, get your red gear together and start thinking about why you’re drug free. Have fun!

If you have any questions about the Paint Georgia Red campaign or the contest, please email us at

Want to join GUIDE for other Red Ribbon Week activities? We will be hosting Walk the Talk events at parks around Gwinnett County all month long. In addition to seeing us and getting some great exercise, we will talk about various prevention-related topics in honor of Red Ribbon Week. Check out our schedule here. We hope to see you there!