Neighborhood by Neighborhood, Little Rock Combats Substance Abuse

Fighting Back: Community Initiatives to Reduce Demand for Illegal Drugs and Alcohol

The Fighting Back® project in Little Rock, Ark., worked to strengthen community participation and resolve in combating substance abuse and its effects by strengthening neighborhood services and identity.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) national program Fighting Back: Community Initiatives to Reduce Demand for Illegal Drugs and Alcohol.

Key Results: Little Rock Fighting Back:

  • Opened 16 Neighborhood Alert Centers, which brought law enforcement, social services and code inspection to local neighborhoods.
  • Hired neighborhood residents and trained them to serve as facilitators at each Neighborhood Alert Center.
  • Established two centers that provided assessment and support, including shelter, food and job placement, for people waiting for or leaving substance abuse treatment.
  • Created an outpatient substance abuse treatment program for children.
  • Established the first residential substance abuse treatment facilities in Little Rock for pregnant women and women with children.
  • Developed a "Drugs Don't Work" resource guide and workplace substance abuse prevention program, which eventually became part of a statewide program.

Key Evaluation Findings: According to a national evaluation conducted by investigators at Brandeis University, which compared Little Rock to similar sites where Fighting Back was not implemented:

  • The percentage of respondents at risk for alcohol dependence or dependent upon alcohol decreased in Little Rock while increasing in the comparison sites.
  • By focusing on a few programs and populations, the project provided a good case study of the results of targeted, focused efforts sustained over the long term.