There is a new group in the Coachella Valley created to address the issues of substance abuse in our community. As part of the Clinton Health Matters Initiative and led by the California State University San Bernardino Palm Desert Campus, the Substance Abuse Advisory Committee (SAAC) has identified four areas of focus: alcohol abuse, marijuana abuse, prescription drug abuse, and the use and abuse of e-cigarettes.

At their most recent meeting, SAAC members agreed to focus their time and resources on one primary area of concern, alcohol abuse, which results in a disproportionate number of DUIs and alcohol-related incidents throughout the valley.

With supporting statistics from the most recent HARC community survey, the committee identified an elevated concern here in the Coachella Valley – not only with visitors – but also with the permanent population. The alcohol-related problems identified include: drinking and driving, underage drinking, social hosting of parties (not only underage, but all ages), and elderly drinking. The elderly population is of specific concern due to health complications which may result from mixing alcohol with medications.

Working with the Coachella Valley Association of Governments (CVAG) as a major partner, the committee set a goal to reduce DUIs in the Coachella Valley through education, laws (creating, changing and enforcing of them), and rehabilitation.

The educational messages will be presented through a vast media campaign to include public service announcements on local television, radio and newspapers; billboards, both stationary and mobile; and social media.

Working together, Riverside County’s Office of Probation and the District Attorney’s office will also create DUI awareness programming for area schools.

A sub-committee is developing workshops related to healthy parenting, along with parent information packets addressing healthy child development. The emphasis will be on educating parents about the issues of alcohol abuse.

The campaign is also fortunate to have the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation as a partner. They are currently working to expand their educational resources and services, making them more accessible to all Coachella Valley residents.

The committee stated that future plans include classes and educational programs for people and groups that host private parties in their homes, as well as programs aimed at educating those in the hospitality industry on laws and liabilities related to over-serving in their establishments.

“The varied backgrounds of the members of this committee will help provide valuable information and education for the public regarding the issues of substance abuse and how to address them,” says committee chair Albert Angelo, a faculty member and health educator at CSUSB – Palm Desert Campus. “The future looks very positive, with more ideas to come to help the valley address (in a meaningful way) the concerns related to substance abuse.”

For more information on this program, please contact Albert Angelo at [email protected].

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Comments (2)

  • Judith L. Shea

    I would like to be part of the committe.I originally help start the Childrens Program at Betty Ford Center. I am currently the Drug Awareness Chair for the Desert Hot Springs Elks, Community Events Chair for the DHS Women’s Club, CEO of the DHS Community Task Force(DHSCTF.ORG), Member of the DHS Alano Club Board of Directors, and ran Sober Age Recovery Center and Bookstore for 13 years.
    I can be reached at 760-329-6096 Home # or 760-799-5349 cell.
    I will be on vacation from 7/8 ill 8/15.
    Thank You
    Judy Shea

    • Lauren Del Sarto, Publisher

      Thank you, Judy. I will forward your comment to the appropriate people!

      Thank you for reading Desert Health!



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