June 2001

Grant Results

SUMMARY

Between 1997 and 1999, Drug Strategies, Washington, a nonprofit research and education institute, created profiles of substance abuse problems in three cities and developed a how-to manual to assist other communities to produce their own profiles.

Key Results

  • Drug Strategies produced profiles of Washington, (April 1999); Detroit, (June 1999); and Santa Barbara, Calif., (July 1999). Each profile follows a common format, including:
    • An introduction explaining the scope of the profile and the process by which it was compiled.
    • An overview of local public and private sector agencies, funding and data resources.
    • Data concerning use of alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs.
    • Descriptions of model substance abuse prevention programs.
    • Data and policies regarding crime and substance abuse.
    • Information on the costs of substance abuse, including the impact on health; and city responses to the problem.

    A common theme in all three profiles is the need for improved treatment services.
  • Drug Strategies produced a step-by-step guide for other groups seeking to develop their own city profiles, Lessons from the Field: Profiling City Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Problems.

Funding
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) supported the project with a grant of $357,949 between March 1997 and October 1999.

 See Grant Detail & Contact Information
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THE PROJECT

Although alcohol, tobacco, and other drug abuse problems are of national importance, the effects of these abuses are most keenly felt at the local level, where substance abuse damages individuals, families, neighborhoods, and whole communities.

The federal government's preference for locally devised approaches to drug control intensifies the need for accurate data to illuminate local drug trends. Drug Strategies, a Washington D.C.-based research institute, had previously analyzed substance abuse problems on the state and national levels between 1994 and 1999, under two projects funded by RWJF (see Grant Results on ID#s 024010 and 024326).

Drug Strategies profiled substance abuse problems in five states (California, Massachusetts, Ohio, Arizona, and South Carolina) and created a how-to manual for others wishing to replicate the profiling process in their own states. In this grant, Drug Strategies adapted the state profile model to cities.

The goal of the city profiles project was to provide policymakers at the local level with an independent review of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug problems and an assessment of policies meant to address these problems. In each of the three cities (Washington, D.C.; Detroit, Mich.; and Santa Barbara, Calif.), two advisory panels were formed, one for technical support and one for leadership in establishing policy recommendations and designing a dissemination strategy.

Advisers were chosen for their expertise in different substance abuse-related policy areas — alcohol, illicit drugs, and tobacco — as well as health, criminal justice, and education. City leaders (in government and the private sector) provided support to the project, forming the advisory panels and publicizing the profiles' findings.

In consultation with Join Together, a national resource center for communities working to reduce substance abuse started by RWJF and funded under grant ID#s 018713, 019307, 026942, 027954, and 037337, Drug Strategies selected the three communities based on their geographic diversity as well as the range of city types they represented: a preeminent industrial city (Detroit), an affluent community burdened by drug problems (Santa Barbara), and a city commanding national and international attention as the nation's capitol (Washington, D.C.).

Employing the format that produced the state profiles, Drug Strategies assessed substance abuse in four main areas:

  1. the extent of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drug use
  2. crime
  3. its cost to society
  4. health policy and status.

Statistical data were collected and compared to national, regional, and state figures; these data were complemented by extensive phone interviews with key individuals. In Washington, D.C., Drug Strategies contracted with Peter D. Hart Research Associates, a polling firm, to conduct a public opinion survey. It asked 19 questions on local drug issues as well as 6 questions designed to measure national perceptions of drug abuse as a local issue in Washington, D.C.

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RESULTS

  • Drug Strategies produced profiles of Washington, D.C. (April 1999); Detroit, Mich. (June 1999); and Santa Barbara, Calif. (July 1999). Although amounts and types of information vary by city, each profile follows a common format, including an introduction explaining the scope of the profile and the process by which it was compiled; an overview of local public and private sector agencies, funding, and data resources; data concerning use of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs, presented graphically and in prose; descriptions of model substance abuse prevention programs; data and policies regarding crime and substance abuse; information on the costs of substance abuse, including the impact on health; and city responses to the problem. Findings from the Peter D. Hart survey were included in the Washington, D.C., profile. Each profile concludes with priorities for future policies, a list of local resources, source information, detailed bibliographies, and data tables. A common theme in all three profiles is the need for improved treatment services: in Washington, D.C., and Santa Barbara, Calif., publicly funded treatment beds fell by 50 percent during the 1990s, while in Detroit 93 percent of addicts went untreated.
  • Drug Strategies produced a step-by-step guide for other groups seeking to develop their own city profiles, Lessons from the Field: Profiling City Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Problems. Based on Drug Strategies' experience in preparing its city and state profiles, the guide offers help in producing one of two basic profile types: (1) an indicator-only report, for cities that are "novices" in surveying substance abuse problems, and (2) a more comprehensive approach that includes data driven-analysis of local programs and policies and offers specific policy recommendations. The guide also provides guidance on facilitating interagency collaboration in assessing and responding to these problems.

Communications

Drug Strategies released the profiles at press conferences (one for each of the three cities) that included the mayors and other city officials. Reacting to information included in the Washington, D.C., profile, Mayor Anthony Williams commented, "We hear you, and we will overlook this problem no longer." At each site, project staff distributed 2,500 copies to city, county, and state legislators; members of Congress; nongovernmental organizations; concerned citizens; and the media.

Articles on the profiles appeared in the Associated Press, The Washington Post, The Detroit News and Free Press, and the Santa Barbara News-Press. The how-to manual was distributed to 1,400 members of the media, the US Congress, the Conference of Mayors, the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors, city officials, and concerned community groups across the country. Both the how-to guide and city profiles are posted on Drug Strategies Web site. (See the Bibliography for details.)

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LESSONS LEARNED

  1. Significant gaps remain in city-level data describing the scope of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug problems. Although wide recognition of the importance of local data is providing the impetus for stronger data gathering and analysis at the city level, identifying reliable trend data for the most important indicators remains a considerable challenge.
  2. Groups undertaking a city profile should be prepared to find intense local concern over alcohol- and tobacco-related problems. Although political and media attention has been concentrated on illicit drugs, local experts and advisers in each of the profiled cities voiced concern over the harm caused by alcohol and tobacco.
  3. Understanding of different policymaking and funding roles of the city, county, and state — and how the jurisdictions relate to one another — are critical when gathering data on alcohol, tobacco, and other drug problems. If reliable city-level data do not exist for many key indicators, the profile's focus may have to shift to the wider metropolitan area or county. An understanding of division of responsibilities — and the tensions — among the various jurisdictions must be taken into account when offering recommendations for drug strategies that would entail cooperation among the jurisdictions.

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AFTER THE GRANT

Drug Strategies continues to produce city and state profiles, with funding from other foundations and government agencies. Profiles of Indiana and Kansas (conducted concurrently with the city profiles project but funded separately) were completed in 1998; a profile of Baltimore and Maryland was completed in December 2000.

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GRANT DETAILS & CONTACT INFORMATION

Project

Development of Statistical Profiles of Substance Abuse in Three Cities

Grantee

Drug Strategies (Washington,  DC)

  • Amount: $ 357,949
    Dates: March 1997 to October 1999
    ID#:  031036

Contact

Mathea Falco
(202) 289-9070
dspolicy@aol.com

Web Site

http://www.drugstrategies.org

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

(Current as of date of this report; as provided by grantee organization; not verified by RWJF; items not available from RWJF.)

Books and Reports

City Views on Drug Abuse: A Washington, D.C., Survey. Washington, D.C.: Peter D. Hart Research Associates and Drug Strategies, 1998.

Facing Facts: Drugs and the Future of Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C.: Drug Strategies, 1999. 2,500 copies distributed to date.

Detroit Profile. Washington, D.C.: Drug Strategies, 1999. 2,500 copies distributed to date.

Santa Barbara Profile. Washington, D.C.: Drug Strategies, 1999. 2,500 copies distributed to date.

Lessons from the Field: Profiling City Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Problems. Washington, D.C.: Drug Strategies, 1999. 1,400 copies distributed to date.

Presentations and Testimony

John Walsh, "Lessons from the Field: Profiling Community Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Problems," at the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America's (CADCA) 10th National Leadership Forum, December 4, 1999, Washington, D.C.

John Walsh, "Profiling State and Local Drug Problems," at the National Prevention Network's (NPN) 13th Annual Prevention Research Conference, September 25, 2000, Columbus, Ohio.

World Wide Web Sites

www.drugstrategies.org provides information about Drug Strategies' projects. Reports produced under this grant (the three city profiles and the how-to guide) appear on this site along with state profiles and other reports. Washington, D.C.: Drug Strategies.

News Conferences

Press conference on the release of Facing Facts: Drugs and the Future of Washington, D.C., a report on alcohol, tobacco, and other drug problems in Washington, D.C., and on local policies to address these problems, Washington, D.C., April 16, 1999. Attended by 11 journalists.

Press conference on the release of the Detroit Profile, a report on alcohol, tobacco, and other drug problems in Detroit, Mich., and on local policies to address these problems, Detroit, Mich., June 25, 1999. Attended by six journalists.

Press conference on the release of the Santa Barbara Profile, a report on alcohol, tobacco, and other drug problems in Santa Barbara, Calif., and on local policies to address these problems, Santa Barbara, Calif., July 12, 1999. Attended by three journalists.

Press Kits and News Releases

A news release on Facing Facts: Drugs and the Future of Washington, D.C., was faxed on April 16, 1999, to 250 newspapers and radio and television stations in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.

A news release on the Detroit Profile was faxed on June 25, 1999, to 50 newspapers and radio and television stations in the Detroit metropolitan area.

A news release on the Santa Barbara Profile was faxed on July 12, 1999, to over 50 newspapers and radio and television stations in Santa Barbara, Calif.

A news release on Lessons from the Field: Profiling City Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Problems was mailed on October 28, 1999, to 35 trade publications and newsletters having to do with drug abuse, city government and policy issues, and foundation grant making.

Print Coverage

"Drug Problems and Solutions in Detroit Laid Out in Report" in The Detroit News and Free Press, June 26, 1999.

"Report: Teens Pass, Adults Failing" in Santa Barbara News-Press, July 13, 1999.

"D.C. Residents Urge Focus on Drug Abuse" in The Washington Post, July 26, 1998.

"D.C. Drug, Alcohol Use Said Rising" in the Associated Press (AP), April 16, 1999. AP Story appeared (April 17, 1999) in The Keyser News-Tribune, Keyser, W.Va.; The New Bedford Standard-Times, New Bedford, Mass.; and The San Antonio Express-News, San Antonio, Texas.

"D.C. Study Spotlights Drug Abuse" in The Washington Post, April 17, 1999.

"What Will Be Done About the D.C. Drug Problem?" in The Washington Informer, May 6–12, 1999.

"Drug Use in D.C." in The Washington Afro-American, May 7, 1999.

"If the Mayor Really wants to Tackle Substance Abuse…" in The Washington Post, May 9, 1999.

"Small Thefts A Cause for Big Concern" in The Washington Post, May 12, 1999.

"Hope for Our High-Risk Communities" in The Washington Post, May 22, 1999.

Book Reviews

Swann C, "New Step-by-Step Guide Can Help Cities Produce Profiles on Drug Abuse and Drug Policy," a review of Lessons from the Field: Profiling City Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Problems in U.S. Mayor Newspaper, November 4, 1999.

Television Coverage

"Ten O'Clock News," WKBD-TV (UPN), Southfield, Mich., June 25, 1999.

"Local News," WWJ-TV (CBS), Detroit, Mich., June 25, 1999.

"News 10 at 6:00 p.m.," WILX-TV (NBC), Lansing, Mich., June 25, 1999.

"Evening News," KEYT-TV (ABC), Santa Barbara, Calif., July 12, 1999.

"Good Morning Washington," WJLA-TV (ABC), Washington, D.C., April 16, 1999.

"FOX Morning News," WTTG-TV (FOX), Washington, D.C., April 16, 1999.

"News 4 Today," WRC-TV (NBC), Washington, D.C., April 16, 1999.

"The Washington Report," Newschannel 8 (Cable), Springfield, VA, April 16, 1999.

"DC News," City Cable 16, Washington, D.C., April 16, 1999.

"News 4 at 5," WRC-TV (NBC), Washington, D.C., April 16, 1999.

"Eyewitness News at 6:30," WUSA-TV (CBS), Washington, D.C., April 16, 1999.

"The 10 O'Clock News," WTTG-TV (FOX), Washington, D.C., April 16, 1999.

"Weekend Morning Report," Newschannel 8 (Cable), Springfield, Va., April 17, 1999.

Radio Coverage

"Local News," WDET-FM (NPR), Detroit, Mich., June 25, 1999.

"News Talk 630," WMAL-AM (ABC), Washington, D.C., April 16, 1999.

"Local News," WETA-FM (NPR), Arlington, Va., April 16, 1999.

"Public Interest," WAMU-FM (NPR, PRI), Washington, D.C., May 17, 1999.

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Report prepared by: Jayme Hannay
Reviewed by: Robert Crum
Reviewed by: Robert Narus
Program Officer: Floyd K. Morris

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