At a time when worries about teenagers getting their hands on vaping products has led to all-out bans on those products, the County is still concerned about under-aged drinking.

County Supervisors accepted $200,000 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking Act grant program over the next four years — April 30, 2020 to April 29, 2024, according to a county staff report.

The grants are intended to “prevent and reduce alcohol use among youth and young adults ages 12 through 20 throughout the county.” The extra money will expand the County Behavior Health Department’s “Friday Night Live,” program from six to eight middle schools.

The report, from Behavioral Health Administrator Anne Robin, said, “The activities to be implemented in the project will aim to address community norms regarding alcohol use by youth, reduce opportunities for underage drinking by limiting youth access to alcohol, create changes in underage drinking enforcement efforts, address penalties for underage use, and/or reduce the prevalence of negative consequences associated with underage drinking [e.g., motor vehicle crashes, sexual assaults]. In addition, the department will build on strategic plans that were developed under its federal Drug Free Communities Grant, and County’s Strategic Prevention Framework plan. STOP Act grant funds must be used primarily to support infrastructure development, such as creating policies, workforce development, partnerships, etc.”

The Prevention & Outreach Division Program will use the money to:
• Enhance intergovernmental cooperation and coordination on the issue of alcohol use among youth.
• Serve as a catalyst for increased citizen participation and greater collaboration among all sectors and
organizations of a community to foster a long-term commitment to reducing alcohol use among youth.
• Strengthen collaboration among communities, the federal government, state, local, and tribal governments
to reduce alcohol use among youth and young adults.
• Disseminate timely information to communities regarding state-of-the-art practices and initiatives that have
proven to be effective in preventing and reducing alcohol use among youth.
• Develop an Action Plan that enhances local community initiatives for preventing and reducing alcohol use
among youth. Implement strategies and needed actions identified in the Action Plan.
• Utilize Town Halls to gain feedback from communities on underage drinking issues in the community and
utilize this feedback to implement change.
• Work with the Prevention Technology Transfer Centers (PTTC), regional technical assistance firms responsible for distributing strategies and providing training, to ensure best practices are shared between the PTTC and your program to expand the reach of messaging regarding best practice strategies to address underage drinking.

According to the report, Friday Night Live started up here in 1993 and “provides the County with resources, volunteers, and advisory support for school-based programs across the county. The County Office of Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Cuesta College, Public Health Department, Probation, local law enforcement agencies, and the Department of Social Services each have distinct partnership roles in assisting Behavioral Health in its mission regarding underage drinking prevention.”