09 Jun SLAM Addresses the Conditions That Foster Addiction Through Substance Use Prevention
The South Los Angeles Movement (SLAM), formerly known as the Service Planning Area (SPA) 6 Coalition, formed about eight years ago as a collaborative of community-based organizations dedicated to substance use prevention amongst youth and the community at large. SLAM includes Avalon-Carver Community Center, Community Coalition, People Coordinated Services of Southern California Inc., Shields for Families, South Central Prevention Coalition, Volunteers of America–Positive Alternatives Program, Watts Healthcare Corporation–Youth Education Prevention Program, and Weber Community Center. Individually and collectively, the organizations provide prevention education, outreach, and resources that increase awareness and help reduce the use of marijuana, tobacco, alcohol, and prescription drugs within the community, but especially among youth.
The mission of the SLAM Prevention Coalition is to improve the community’s overall health and address the environmental conditions that foster addiction through substance use prevention, particularly by centering the narrative around the voices of South Los Angeles youth. While prevention programming at the micro-level is a priority, the SLAM Prevention Coalition understands and acknowledges that environmental prevention strategies are essential in transforming the built-in conditions that foster addiction in the community and to create a healthy and thriving South LA for all.
Since 2018, the SLAM Prevention Coalition has hosted its annual Emerging Leaders Youth Summit, a convening for and by South LA youth focused on leadership development, life skills acquisition, and substance use prevention. In August 2019, SLAM successfully launched a pilot Youth Council of 10-12 middle school and high school youth, which has now become a permanent component of the Coalition. The youth council members are trained to become substance use prevention advocates in their schools and communities. They also help inform, plan, and execute prevention efforts such as the Youth Summit. Most recently, two SLAM youth council members were featured speakers of the National Prevention Week virtual celebration. They spoke about the impact of drugs on their communities and advocated for policy reforms to reduce the overconcentration of nuisance businesses in South LA that foster addiction.
In recent years, the SLAM Coalition has hosted a “Prescription Drug Take-Back Day” Resource Fair, which is a safe and anonymous way to collect and dispose of expired and unused prescription drugs. In October 2019, SLAM collected more than 600 pounds of prescription drugs and provided the community with tobacco prevention, sexual health, mental health, and medical resources.
As a leading trailblazer of prevention in South LA, SLAM presented its best practices at the California Statewide Substance Use Disorder Conference in 2019. To expand and continue cross-collaboration, SLAM submitted proposals for additional conferences expected to take place later in 2020. If accepted, SLAM plans to showcase the importance of engaging youth as advocates of substance use prevention and best practices for implementing youth-informed prevention strategies.
In the time of COVID-19, SLAM has remained active and impactful. Coalition partners continue to convene regularly and have transitioned their work to virtual platforms. The SLAM youth council also remains engaged, providing youth with positive social connections and consistency, which is much needed as they are in crucial stages of adolescent development during this time of uncertainty. SLAM understands that the stressors of COVID-19 can exacerbate the mental health conditions of youth and ultimately lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as substance use. For that reason, it has taken an active role in providing numerous virtual engagements for youth. SLAM is honored to serve South LA, and it looks forward to continuing this timely and essential work.