Riverhead Community Coalition Receives Second Consecutive National Substance Abuse Prevention Award


Riverhead Community Coalition for Safe and Drug-Free Youth has received the 2018 Coalition of Excellence Award for Intermediate Outcomes from CADCA (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America), the nation’s leading substance abuse prevention organization. The Coalition of Excellence award is part of CADCA’s GOT OUTCOMES! award program, which gives national recognition to exemplary coalitions that have clearly documented their impact on population-level substance abuse outcomes. The Riverhead Coalition will receive this prestigious award on Feb. 7 during CADCA’s 2019 National Leadership Forum at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. This is the second consecutive Coalition of Excellence Award for the coalition, which received the award for Short-Term Outcomes related to underage drinking prevention in 2017.

“On behalf of our coalition members and the Riverhead community, we are honored to once again be recognized by CADCA for the positive outcomes we have achieved collaboratively,” said Felicia Scocozza, executive director of Riverhead Community Awareness Program, Inc. (CAP), the lead coordinating agency for the Riverhead Community Coalition. “To achieve success, we were able to identify effective solutions and implement environmental strategies that best fit our community.” Environmental strategies are interventions which change community conditions that contribute to youth substance abuse. According to Scocozza, this year’s award recognized the coalition for their work to reduce prescription drug abuse and youth access to unwanted prescription drugs in homes and the community, thus preventing future opioid and heroin abuse.

“We congratulate the Riverhead Community Coalition on the outstanding prevention outcomes they have brought to their community over the past several years,” said General Arthur T. Dean, CADCA’s Chairman and CEO. “The coalition’s efforts have led to a decrease in the percentage of adult [survey] respondents who report having unused, unwanted and expired medication in their home, from 52.4% in 2013 to 37.9% in 2018. The percentage of youth respondents who report that it is easy or very easy to get prescription drugs also decreased from 36.3% in 2008 to 27.48% in 2017.” According to CADCA, coalitions who utilize a holistic, multi-sector approach are able to engage the entire community, achieve sustainable outcomes, and truly change social norms relative to substance use and misuse.

Riverhead Community Coalition for Safe and Drug-Free Youth was founded in 2006 in Riverhead, New York by Riverhead CAP and serves the communities that comprise the Riverhead Central School District. In their application, the Riverhead Community Coalition demonstrated their efforts to address the issue of youth substance use by having youth coalition members develop and record PSAs that educate community members about medication safety and the 24/7 medication drop box in the lobby of the Riverhead Police Department; partnering with law enforcement to increase and implement on-site medication take backs for senior communities, drive-through drug drop-off at take back events, provide signage and resources for these events in Spanish, and provide training and administrative support to these events; and partnering with physician offices and pharmacies to raise awareness about proper medication safety and disposal. Through these efforts, the coalition has collected and disposed of over 5,600 pounds of medication since 2014.

“I am extremely proud of our adult and youth coalition members and our partners for receiving this nationally recognized award for the second year in a row,” said Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller, an active coalition member who was on hand to accept last year’s award. “It truly affirms something we already know: that coalitions work, especially Riverhead’s.” He added that 80% of heroin users started by using prescription painkillers, which is why it is imperative to collaboratively reduce access to prescription drugs in our community. “It is key to preventing future opioid abuse and heroin use among Riverhead youth and adults. Our coalition has and will continue to reduce access to prescription drugs. Congratulations to our Riverhead Adult and Youth Coalitions. We are definitely changing, protecting, and improving the lives of our youth.”

“Our members make it possible for us to achieve these positive outcomes through their energy, expertise, and dedication to our mission,” said Kelly Miloski, coalition coordinator and community prevention specialist at Riverhead CAP. “Our coalition has passion; we consistently and effectively work together to implement environmental strategies that demonstrate positive changes within our community. These positive changes impact everyone who lives, works, and visits our community.”

Scocozza and Miloski submitted the application on behalf of the coalition. In addition to receiving the award at CADCA’s 2019 National Leadership Forum in February, they will once again be presenting two workshop sessions. The first entitled, Transforming From an Advisory Board to an Active Coalition, will address the steps the Riverhead Community Coalition took too to expand coalition membership, participation and collaboration. The second, Coalitions Achieving Successful Outcomes, will be in partnership with the other three Coalition of Excellence Award recipients.

CADCA’s National Leadership Forum is the nation’s largest training event for community coalition advocates and substance abuse prevention leaders, featuring more than 100 sessions on the latest science, news, trends and industry best practices on substance abuse issues. Dr. Jerome M. Adams, the 20th Surgeon General of the United States, will be the keynote speaker for the 29th Annual National Leadership Forum.