MAPP makes substance use prevention local

WINDSOR, Vt. – In September of this year, President Biden declared October 2022 as National Youth Substance Use Prevention Month, focusing attention on the risk of substance use in young Americans. Studies show that 90% of people who experience substance use disorder as adults began using these substances before they were 18.

Mt. Ascutney Prevention Partnership (MAPP) is a community-based public health coalition working to facilitate community action that promotes health and positive environments for all residents. Melanie Sheehan, MCHES, Chair of MAPP, says that people who begin using substances such as nicotine, alcohol, and other drugs before they are 15 are seven times more likely to develop dependence than those who wait until they are 21 or older. She says, “During adolescence the brain is very vulnerable and going through rapid development and changes. Neural pathways needed in childhood prune away while more adult-focused skills are being learned. Introducing substances at this time can create a chemical pathway in the brain that favors reward and addiction. This is why targeting prevention efforts during adolescence is so important. The positive impact can be life altering.”

With Vermont being among the top five states in the US with the highest rates of substance use disorder, she says that it’s vitally important for Vermonters to understand and embrace proven prevention techniques. Prevention work can be shared in our communities by engaged schools’ administrators and systems, recovery coaches, and businesses, working alongside the police, health care providers, the media, parents, and youth themselves. “Really,” she says, “it’s the work of the entire community to keep itself safe and healthy. When we do the work together, we all benefit.”

MAPP offers resources on prevention at and at Mt. Ascutney Prevention Partnership on Facebook.

People who are concerned about substance use disorder in their own lives can get help at VT Helplink, by telephone at 802-565-LINK (5465) and online at Inspiring stories of Vermonters in Recovery and local resources are also available at People interested in understanding their patterns of drinking and level of risk can visit


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