Northern Berkshire Community Coalition

Organizing and supporting the Northern Berkshire community for over 30 years!

nb21 (not before 21, not in Northern Berkshire) is a community organizing program designed to reduce teens’ underage drinking and marijuana use, as well as the overall incidence of addiction in North Berkshire.

We engage and educate the community to help prevent underage use of alcohol, marijuana, and illegal drugs. Prevention is a key strategy to reduce addiction in our community. We promote education about the consequences of substance misuse, harm reduction services, and seek community-based treatment for addiction and recovery support services that support the many paths to recovery.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, please contact Wendy Penner at 413-663-7588 or e-mail at wpenner@nbccoalition.org.

 Tips and Resources for

Talking with Your Kids

Prevention Work

Student Health Survey

Community Initiatives

Prevention, Treatment

and Recovery

Resources

 Contact nb21

Research shows that the main reason that kids don’t use alcohol, tobacco, or drugs is because of their parents -- because of their positive influence and because they don’t want to disappoint them. That’s why it is so important that parents build a strong relationship with their kids, and talk to them about alcohol, marijuana and other drug use – Parents should start talking to their kids about alcohol by age 9!

Below are a few ways you can build a positive relationship with your kids, and start talking to them about drugs.

Note: “Drugs” refers to alcohol, marijuana, e-cigarettes/vaping, tobacco, and illegal drugs.

Click each tip below to learn more.

  • 1) Establish and maintain good communication with your children.

    Why? The better you know your children, the easier it will be to guide them towards positive activities and friendships.

     

    How?

    • Talk to your children every day. Share what happened to you and ask what happened to them during the day.
    • Ask questions that kids can’t answer with “yes” or “no,” such as “what was your favorite part of the day.” Ask your children their opinions and include them in making decisions. Show your children that you value their thoughts and input.
    • Be ready to talk to your children as early as the fourth grade, when they may first feel peer pressure to experiment with alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends beginning to talk with your child about alcohol at age 9.
    • Listen to your child’s or teen’s concerns non-judgmentally. Repeat them to make clear that you understand. Don’t preach.
  • 2) Get involved in your children’s lives.

    Why? Young people are less likely to get involved with drugs when caring adults are a part of their life.

     

    How?

    • Spend time doing something your children want to do every day.
    • Support your children’s activities by attending special events, like school sponsored events, recitals and games, and praising them for their efforts.
    • Help your children manage problems by asking what is wrong when they seem upset and letting them know you are there to help.
  • 3) Make clear rules and enforce them consistently.

    Why? Research shows that when parents set harsh rules or no rules, kids are more likely to try drugs.

     

    How?

    • Discuss rules, expectations, and consequences in advance.

    • If a rule is broken, be sure to enforce the consequences. This teaches children to take responsibility for their actions.

    • Give praise when your children follow rules and meet expectations.

  • 4) Be a positive role model.

    Why? Children imitate adults.

     

    How?

    • Demonstrate ways to solve problems, have fun, and manage stress without using alcohol or drugs.
    • Point out examples of irresponsible behavior, such as ones you see in movies or hear in music.
    • Remember that you set the example. Avoid contradictions between your words and your actions. If you use alcohol or marijuana, do so in moderation, try not to smoke cigarettes especially around your child, and never abuse drugs.
  • 5) Help your children choose friends wisely.

    Why? When children have friends who don’t engage in risky behaviors, they are likely to resist them too.

     

    How?

    • Help your kids feel comfortable in social situations.

    • Get to know your children’s friends and their families.

    • Involve your children in positive group activities, such as sports teams, scouting troops, and after school programs.

  • 6) Talk to your children about alcohol, marijuana and other drugs.

    Why? When parents talk to their kids early and often about alcohol, marijuana and other substance abuse, kids are less likely to try drugs.

     

    How?

    • Short discussions go a long way. Engage your children in a conversation. Ask what they know, how they feel, and what they think about the issue.
    • Talk to your children one-on-one and together.
    • Educate yourself about alcohol, marijuana, vaping, tobacco, and drug use before talking to your children. You will lose credibility if you don’t have your facts right. (add link to page with specific info)
    • Set some time aside for you and your child to act out scenarios in which one person tries to pressure another to drink alcohol, smoke, or use a drug. Figure out two or three ways to handle each situation and talk about which works best.

     

    When?

    • Any time you spend together is the perfect time for a conversation.
    • Establish an ongoing conversation rather than giving a one-time speech.
  • 7) What should I say?

    • Explain the effects of drugs on the body and the legal consequences of using drugs.
    • Make it clear that you don’t want your kids to use drugs and that you will be disappointed if they do.
    • Discuss why using drugs isn’t okay. Explain that it’s against the law for a child or teen to use alcohol, marijuana or cigarettes and that using drugs is always illegal—for good reason.
    • Explain how drug use can hurt people in several ways—for example, the transmission of AIDS through shared needles, slowed growth, impaired coordination, accidents.
    • Discuss the legal issues. A conviction for a drug offense can lead to time in prison or cost someone a job, driver’s license, or college loan.
    • If any of your children have tried drugs, be honest about your disappointment, but emphasize that you still love them.

     

        Give your kids a way out of difficult situations: Click here to learn a great way to help your child do this.

  • 8) Mistakes happen.

    If your child does experiment with alcohol, marijuana or other drugs, it’s important to keep communicating with your child and let them know you care about them and are concerned about the choices they are making, rather than focus on any anger or disappointment you may feel. Listen to their reasons and talk about then calmly. There are more resources on how to talk to your kids here. You can also seek support from the Massachusetts Substance Abuse Helpline at 800-327-5050 www.helplinema.org, or locally from The Brien Center (link). Online resources include:

     

    https://drugfree.org/landing-page/get-help-support/is-there-a-problem/

     

    https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment/what-to-do-if-your-teen-or-young-adult-has-problem-drugs

     

    Is your teen using? http://massclearinghouse.ehs.state.ma.us/product/SA1066.html

     

We use five main strategies in our prevention work. Click each of the following strategies to learn more.

  • 1) Support schools in using education and substance screening to prevent and reduce substance misuse.

    The Botvin Life Skills curriculum is being implemented at schools across North Berkshire. This is an evidence-based curriculum shown to reduce drug and alcohol misuse. It includes curricula for elementary, middle and high school. Click here to learn more.

     

    Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) focuses on prevention, early detection, risk assessment, brief counselling and referral for assessment that can be utilized in the school setting. Use of a validated screening tool will enable school health teams to detect risk for substance use related problems and brief intervention strategies will help to address these concerns at an early stage in adolescents. Click here to learn more.

  • 2) Support pediatricians in providing age appropriate prevention information to parents and patients.

    Northern Berkshire Pediatrics provides information concerning prevention of alcohol, marijuana and other drug use to parents at well-child visits beginning at age 9. This is to help parents and youth alike understand the health risks of early use of substances, and to support healthy communication on this topic. Because young peoples’ brains are still developing, early use can have damaging effects on healthy brain development. In addition, early use can increase the risk for developing a substance dependency. It’s not every kid, but it could be any kid.

  • 3) Support youth workers to receive information, training, and resources to promote healthy decision making by youth.

    (possibly link to info on UNITY, NBYC, and BYDP)

  • 4) Parent education and engagement through classes, public forums, and working to create a positive supportive environment for parents.

    Research shows parents are the most important factor in children’s decisions not to drink and use marijuana. We offer programming and information to support parents in having healthy family communication about alcohol and drug use. We offer Guiding Good Choices, a 5-session evidence-based curriculum for parents of children age 9-14 that promotes healthy family communication. This class is offered by The Family Place. We also work to create safe and supportive environments where parents can ask questions, get information, and connect with other parents to support raising healthy children.

  • 5) Media campaign to change community laws and norms favorable to use. (need to reword this for general public)

    To create an environment where EVERYONE is supporting healthy choices for youth, a media campaign is in development to engage the entire community. It is starting with messages to encourage parents to have healthy communication with their children pertaining to substance use.  (link to parent page)

Since 2006,  nbCC, in partnership with local schools and the Berkshire Youth Development Project, helps administer the Prevention Needs Assessment to 8th, 10th and 12th graders. The PNA is a student health survey, conducted every two years to help identifying strategies to support healthy decision making, and progress in reaching this goal. The survey asks youth how they view their peers, school, family and community. These views influence choices about risky behaviors. The survey also asks youth about their patterns of alcohol and other drug use. You can view the 2017 PNA data here.  (need pdf or link)

nb21 Task Force: Through the umbrella of our nb21 program, we support all aspects of addressing health issues pertaining to substance use including prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery. To learn more about this issue or to become part of the work groups, contact Wendy Penner at wpenner@nbccoalition.org.

Rx Heroin Work Group

Youth Prevention Work Group

Berkshire Youth Development Project (BYDP):  nb21 partners with BYDP to survey youth across the county on the risk and protective factors in their lives.  This survey is called the Prevention Needs Assessment Survey and has been administered collaboratively since 2006. You can find our most recent data here.

Stop! In the Name of Health: nb21 has joined with Mass in Motion to host a monthly prevention show. Topics range from substance use prevention to active living, healthy eating, oral hygiene and more!  Watch our show on Northern Berkshire Community Television!

Berkshire Opioid Abuse Prevention Collaborative (BOAPC):  nb21 partners with BOAPC to enhance community education on the opioid and other drug issue in our region.  We partner in community education about the use and misuse of opioids, coordinate trainings on this subject for opioid prescribers and work with health educators to enhance their knowledge and curricula around this topic.

Voices for Recovery Film: nbCC produced a short film, Voices for Recovery, a sequel to last year's FACES: Five Stories from One Community. It stresses how a community can come together to respond and adapt to the opioid epidemic and begin to build a community that supports recovery.

nb21 has created several brochures to encourage community education and awareness on the issue of substance use.  Hard copies of these resources are available at the nbCC offices. For a list of our other resource guides, click here.

Berkshire County Substance Use Recovery Resource Guide - Contains a list of local support groups, helplines, Detox Centers, Outpatient Programs and Residential Long-Term Treatment Program.

Download now

Prevent Misuse of Prescription Drugs - This brochure contains a list of commonly misused medications and explains the steps everyone can take to reduce the misuse of prescription drugs.

Download now

24/7 Medication Drop Boxes and Syringe Disposal - Contains a list of Berkshire County sites to drop off unwanted/unused medications and syringes.

Contact Us

You can call the Director of Prevention Programs at (413) 663-7588 ext. 14 or send us an e-mail and we'll reply as soon as possible.

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61 Main Street, Suite 218  |  North Adams. MA 01247  |  Tel: (413) 663-7588  |  Fax: (413) 663-9877