Group receives BP grant to prevent teen drug abuse

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - By Elizabeth Vowell – email

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - Today, kids don't have to go far to see the effects of drugs, and that means they are at a greater risk than ever. Experts say kids are turning to drugs and alcohol at younger ages when life gets hard.

That's why the Gulf Coast Substance Abuse Task Force will be targeting junior high students in teaching drug prevention.

"You have to watch what's going on and, yes, they are younger and younger being exposed to that, so that's why we chose sixth, seventh, and eighth," said GCSATF Executive Director Carolyn Anderson.

The GCSATF received $100,000 in grant money that BP is providing to several organizations that deal with social needs.

With the news that drugs turned up in a Long Beach elementary school this week, the director of the task force said the new funding couldn't come at a better time.

The task force already has several drug prevention resources, including public service announcements that target teens and their families.  It also recently expanded its reach to provide training and prevention classes throughout South Mississippi.  The new grant will expand the reach even further to include kids.

"We may teach them anger management. We may teach them grief. We get into grief if they've lost something. We teach them test anxiety," said Anderson.

The group already trains teachers to identify at risk students.  That training will allow them to provide any needed help to those students. The goal is to show kids they can deal with stress in a healthy, drug free way.

"It's out there. Students are getting pretty savvy. So, we're going to get out there and do what's needed where ever it's needed," said Anderson.

With the extra funding the task force says that more resources can now be spread out to other projects. Anderson also said that the grant funded program may expand to Jackson County and Pass Christian.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.