Adolescent Health Working Group (AHWG) improves health equity so that all youth ages 11 to 24 in California and beyond have unimpeded access to comprehensive, youth-centered, and culturally-based healthcare.

Young people, their caregivers, and many youth-serving providers lack substance use harm reduction-based education. The “just say no” model of substance use education is as unrealistic and ineffective as abstinence-only sex education. All youth need harm reduction-based drug education to keep themselves and their peers safe. Moreover, the war on drugs has failed to end drug use and has destroyed families and communities through mass incarceration and discriminatory enforcement practices.

Safety First

The Safety First: Real Drug Education for Teens curriculum is a comprehensive tool for teachers that allows them to have honest conversations about drugs with their students, equipping them with the skills to navigate their risks. It is the nation’s first harm reduction-based drug education curriculum for high school teachers. The free curriculum consists of 15 lessons that can be completed in a 45- to 50-minute class period.

This tool was created by the Drug Policy Alliance. In Spring 2019, Adolescent Health Working Group worked with Drug Policy Alliance and the San Francisco Unified School District to pilot Safety First in five SFUSD high schools and to more than 600 students.

Highlights from the pilot evaluation include:

  • Increased student knowledge of harm reduction
  • Increased student knowledge of drug knowledge regarding alcohol, cannabis, and opioids
  • Increased student knowledge of how to detect and respond to a drug-related overdose

Learn more about this great curriculum on the Drug Policy Alliance’s website. You can view the Curriculum Guide, a sample lesson, and the License Agreement.

We discussed Safety First and the need for harm reduction-based drug education with Safety First Senior Program Manager and AHWG Board Member Sasha Simon. Read more about this or watch the interview below.

Training Opportunities

AHWG is currently seeking funding to provide substance use and harm reduction training to youth and young adults to facilitate peer-to-peer workshops on family engagement, community advocacy, and policy reform.

If you are interested in learning more about this opportunity, please let us know. If you are a funder and are interested in supporting this work, please contact us.