Some years ago when I was a Grant Review Panellist for the City of Toronto Drug Prevention Grants Committee, I had the opportunity to study proposals from about 100-120 non-profit groups per year. I had participated in some on-site observations at times, looking for results of the funds we approved.
Following are examples of known Best Practices which prevented
(note, this is not about addiction treatment, but drug abuse prevention, before it starts – although you would definitely find this practical in treatment programs too)
THE ARTS: We learned that programs which included on-hands training and practice in the arts such as sculpturing, drama, dance, and most anything artistically expressive worked well in attracting youth and by granting them the right to create constructively and be acknowledged favorably for a job well done, or for learning and improving.
Interestingly it steered youth away from the route of gangs, drugs, crime.
COMMUNICATION: Programs which got youth improving their own communication skills between each other, or with themselves and parents, or themselves and teachers, or to mentors generally reduced the desire for drug use. Friendly, non-explosive two-way communication magically resolves problems, eliminates conflicts, and gives a person assurance that he/she has been heard and understood, It’s good for any of us. With the resultant reduced stress, the reach for drugs (illicit or prescribed) did reduce.
SKILLS BUILDING: Some non-profit groups had brilliant ideas of skills building which did not cost a lot of funds. And often donations in-kind and volunteer-time were gotten from other sources. Any of the above examples would fit in this category; and anything else whether it be learning computer skills to increased literacy, or better yet, how to tutor another, to learning how to do public speaking; or simply getting youth to volunteer to paint houses or even sew are examples of Skills Building.
SPORTS: This is another one. One can get a basketball team going for example, or girl’s floor-hockey. And with a good coach one transfers the skill of being a team-member, of working together, and develops skill at the sport and one and all experience the thrill of competition and its fun too. It’s another time-honoured drug prevention method. And on a neighbourhood level it sure beats the gang member “team spirit” which too-often includes drug dealing and major crime.
ABORIGINAL THERAPY: Now I am no expert in this subject, but from learning of the results of Moccasin Making – yes, “moccasin making” from the Native Men’s Residence, Toronto some years ago (not from my function of a drug prevention grants panellist in this case) I came to realize that these homeless men (who were not necessarily native) gained self-esteem, self-worth and realized their own creativity and produced something valuable which could be sold, traded or given as gifts. This one example of aboriginal therapy, simple and probably a thousand years old was an obvious valid stepping stone which helped men get back on their feet and able to face the world. It fits into drug prevention best practices. It’s an Art, it’s Skills Building, and includes Communication in the teaching and acknowledging of a completed product that has worth. It’s a gradient or stepping stone towards tackling bigger goals. And there are other similar examples of aboriginal therapies.
RELIGION WITHIN ONES RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY: It was common to receive a grant proposal from a Church but generally for a secular program. However, occasionally one would receive a grant proposal which included a form of Muslim or Christian teaching. As a rule, our governments do not forward any one religion by granting it money for it to teach its faith. But honestly, if we could see by a well written proposal, some of the above mentioned best practices within it, religious teaching or not, we would try to fund it – especially if the outreach was to youth of its own parish only. Fact is religion and spiritual based activities have a long history of claims of drug abuse prevention and crime prevention in their own right.
As a last note: There is a phrase more common than BEST PRACTICES that has come into use today. The phrase is EVIDENCE BASED, as I observed at the ISSUES OF SUBSTANCE 2011 CONFERENCE in Vancouver (put on by the CANADIAN CENTRE ON SUBSTANCE ABUSE). You have to show evidence of your “best practice” now. It’s not complex to find evidence by the way, if you truly have a “best practice” model. Look for it on the net. Or call your potential source of government funding and ask them for some “Best Practices Evidence/Studies”. As for the above BEST PRACTICES? You will find evidence already available on any of them by searching the net through Google or Bing, etc; or do library searches. There are studies around and you can quote them in your grant proposal.
Hope you find this useful.
Brad Z Melnychuk