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Florence Seidell, former Project Coordinator of the NE Inhalant Coalition, explains the importance of an infrastructure approach.

Howard Wolfe, Director of the NE Inhalant Coalition, argues for creating a sustainable approach through tweaking existing systems.

Neill Miner, former Director of the New England Institute of Addiction Studies, presents the value of non-traditional partners.

Introduction | Principles | Innovation | History | What is Inhalant Abuse?

Background: Operating Principles

Tap into existing relationships
Target anyone who has an ongoing relationship with a child (parents and youth-serving professionals) by putting inhalant abuse on their RADAR, so that they can transmit inhalant prevention messages to young people and create safer environments.

Recruit opinion leaders
Involve key opinion leaders from local and statewide organizations in state level task forces and teams so that they would diffuse best practices into their networks of youth-serving professionals and parents.

Enlist non-traditional partners
Enhance the infrastructure by building broad-based partnerships with non-traditional prevention partners (such as poison control centers, fire safety educators, and drivers' education instructors).

Institutionalize efforts
Focus on changes that would persist beyond the life of the grant, including educating professionals, creating new tools and materials, distributing curricula and videos, addressing policy issues, and developing a website and inhalant internet newsgroup.

Tweak existing systems and materials
Coach people to tweak what they normally do. For example, if your job is health education, check to make sure you are using the latest approaches. If you are a student assistance professional, be sure to adequately assess for inhalants. In addition, use and adapt for local use Coalition supplied materials and approaches. This avoids the cost of new delivery systems and ensures sustainability. At the state level, this means looking for systems that are already doing prevention and intervention and help them to be more effective in their work around inhalants.

Go for the low hanging fruit
Put time and effort into those projects that are do-able, accessible, and achievable, and partner with ready players. There are lots of ways to reach children and youth - when one path (or communication channel) is blocked, there are many others to choose from. In short, always go for the biggest bang for the buck.

All prevention is local
Because the prevention infrastructure is different in each state, state task forces and teams need to be the leaders. They understand the infrastructure and how to infuse inhalant best practices.

Prime the pump
Because inhalant abuse is not widely understood, even by substance abuse prevention professionals, we found that we often needed to "prime the pump," that is, use brief trainings to build motivation to learn more about prevention practices.

"Just like in the story of making stone soup, before you know it you’ve got this very rich soup full of all sorts of resources that people have chipped in. And it’s based on the enthusiasm that builds among people as they see something taking shape that has a positive end result from their small contribution. One of the keys to the success of this project is that we’re organizing the resources that are already in place.”

Howard Wolfe, Project Director



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