June 2024


Community Connections: Partnering for Prevention

This spring, SAPCA collaborated with our school and community partners, including several youth leaders, to share resources with community members of all ages. Check out some of these partnership highlights:

  • The Keep It 360 Peer Advocates and the Alexandria Youth Ambassadors helped promote the Alexandria Teen Text Line during a teen skate night held at Patrick Henry Recreation Center on May 17. Through this free resource, teens can text TEEN, SEX, DRUGS, or GANGS to 571.640.2898 to get answers to questions on health, relationships, pregnancy, drugs, alcohol, violence, and gangs within 24 hours, Monday through Friday, from trained City staff.

  • In collaboration with the City's Opioid Treatment Program, Senior Services of Alexandria, and the Suicide Prevention Alliance of Northern Virginia, SAPCA distributed 126 free locking medicine boxes as part of the Lock &Talk program. Lock & Talk is a statewide suicide prevention initiative that strives to promote safe care of lethal means and encourages community conversation around mental wellness. Residents can access free locking medication boxes to safely store medication at locations throughout the City.

  • During several recent Alexandria Community Cookouts, SAPCA members distributed brochures highlighting the Developmental Assets -- the building blocks for healthy development -- and parent handbooks. Developed by Operation Parent, these parent handbooks raise awareness about the latest trends, warning signs, and tips for effective parent/child communication. City of Alexandria families can pick up these free resources at upcoming community cookouts or request these materials by emailing emma.beall@alexandriava.gov

Together, we can ensure that youth in Alexandria have the information and tools to make informed choices about their health and future so they can thrive today, tomorrow and in the future.

The Keep It 360 Peer Advocates are a group of Alexandria youth that work closely with SAPCA, the Alexandria Campaign on Adolescent Pregnancy (ACAP) and the Alexandria Sexual Assault Center to support prevention and outreach efforts.

To learn about other ways to support local efforts to prevent youth substance use and misuse, contact Emma Beall at emma.beall@alexandriava.gov

Drug Take Back Day Recap

With the support of multiple efforts to prevent medication misuse, the City of Alexandria collected and safely disposed of a total of 407 lbs. of unused, expired and unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medication.

On April 27, 172 lbs. of medication were collected during National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. An additional 235 lbs. of medication were also collected this spring from the City's year-round permanent medication drop boxes. 

Needles are not accepted in the permanent medication drop boxes. Dispose of needles and syringes at a separate permanent drop box specifically for these items located inside the visitor's entrance at Inova Alexandria Hospital. The box is accessible at the same location and hours as the hospital’s drop off box for medications. 

Visit alexandriava.gov/Opioids for more information about safe medicine disposal and to learn about Alexandria’s efforts regarding the opioid crisis.

SAPCA Delivers Facts and Consequences Presentations at Bishop Ireton High School

On May 6 and 9, SAPCA visited health classes at Bishop Ireton High School to deliver Facts and Consequences presentations to 104 freshmen students.

During these presentations, youth learned about the health, legal, and social consequences of using alcohol, e-cigarettes, marijuana, and prescription and over-the-counter medication. Students also discussed healthy ways to cope with stress and played a trivia game based on the presentation.

SAPCA is appreciative of the opportunity to share this important information with students in our community and looks forward to continuing to collaborate with Bishop Ireton High School in the future.

Interested in supporting SAPCA to deliver Facts and Consequences Presentations? 

Contact Emma Beall at emma.beall@alexandriava.gov. No previous experience is required and all volunteers receive training before presentations take place.

Recognition of Outgoing SAPCA Board Member

Please join us in recognizing outgoing SAPCA Board Member Chloe Yokitis. Through her role as a Keep It 360 Peer Advocate, Chloe has served on the Board of Directors since 2021 and will be attending the University of Rochester in the fall. We wish Chloe the best and are so appreciative of the time, input, and ideas she shared during her time as a Board member!

The SAPCA Board of Directors meets on the fourth Monday of each month to discuss and develop policies and monitor the implementation of the Coalition's strategies and tactics. Contact Emma Beall at emma.beall@alexandriava.gov to learn more.

Celebrating Graduation Season Safely

There's a lot to celebrate towards the end of the school year! Review these tips from Informed Families to support your teen in celebrating safely.

Tips for when your teen is attending a party

Contact the adult who is hosting the party

  • Ask for the address, occasion, and time of the party.
  • Let the host know that your teen is not allowed to drink alcohol, use marijuana, or use tobacco products.
  • Ask if there will be parental supervision throughout the event.
  • Offer your phone number to the party host.

Discuss these issues with your teen before the party

  • Discuss expectations and consequences.
  • Agree on a curfew.
  • Discuss how your teen will get to and from the party.
  • Discuss what your teen should do if there is alcohol or other drugs present at the party.
  • Offer to be your teen's ride home and agree on a "code word" should your teen want to discreetly let you know they want to be picked up.

Tips for when your teen is hosting

Plan with your teen

  • Know who your guests will be and avoid an "open party" situation.
  • Agree on party rules beforehand. This should include making it clear that alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, and other drugs are not allowed.
  • Welcome calls from other parents to discuss party arrangements.

Know your responsibilities

  • It is illegal to serve alcohol to anyone under 21 years of age.
  • Penalties upon conviction include: a $2,500 fine per young person provided any alcoholic beverage, loss of the adult’s driver’s license for up to one year and/or one year in jail.

Please choose to celebrate safely and encourage friends and family members to do the same. Explore more tips for celebrating safely at PreventItAlexandria.org

Trending Topics: What is Zyn?

In a recent blog post, the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth (VFHY) highlighted facts about Zyn, a nicotine pouch that has been trending on social media. Check out this excerpt from VFHY to learn more about this emerging topic:

From flavored e-cigarettes to “tobacco-free” nicotine, the tobacco industry is constantly reinventing tobacco and finding new ways to entice young people to use its products. The latest so-called innovation? Nicotine pouches like Zyn.

Zyn is the top-selling brand of nicotine pouches that contain small bundles of nicotine and other ingredients. Pouches are placed between a user’s lip and gum, slowly releasing nicotine into the bloodstream. Like e-cigarettes, Zyn comes in flavors including cinnamon, citrus, coffee, and “cool mint.”

Nicotine pouches do not emit any smell, smoke, or vapor, making it difficult for parents and caregivers to know if a child is using them. Plus, unlike some other smokeless tobacco products, pouches don’t require spitting out loose tobacco, making them easier to hide from adults. 

Zyn is not the only brand offering nicotine pouches, but it is currently the best-selling – it’s cultivated a powerful following on social media. It’s especially popular on TikTok, where young users are bombarded with videos from “Zynfluencers” promoting the product.

“Tobacco-free” nicotine and nicotine pouches are relatively new, compared to tobacco products, and have not yet been researched extensively. However, the negative effects of nicotine on the developing brain are well-known. Research suggests that nicotine use in childhood and adolescence can alter brain development, increase stress, and amplify feelings of depression and anxiety. Plus, the younger a person is when they first try nicotine, the more likely they are to become addicted. This means smokeless and tobacco-free nicotine products like Zyn are not harmless to young users.  

VFHY offers free nicotine use prevention lessons to educate K-12 students about nicotine products. These lessons can be used in classrooms, after-school programs, camps, and more.

Learn more about VFHY and explore free prevention lessons here.

Safety Tips for Avoiding Impaired Driving

Whether you're traveling near or far, or not at all, this summer, follow and share these simple guidelines from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles for avoiding impaired driving.

Preventing Drunk & Drugged Driving

  • Plan for a sober ride home (taxi, Uber, Lyft or a sober friend) before a night out.
  • Remember, Virginia law prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from purchasing, possessing, or consuming alcohol. Additionally, Virginia's zero tolerance law prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from operating a motor vehicle if they have been drinking alcohol.
  • Be a responsible host by making sure all guests leave with a sober ride. If providing alcohol, only serve individuals age 21 or older.
  • If you are taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, find out the potential effects the drugs could have on your driving before getting behind the wheel.

Preventing Distracted Driving

  • Before you go, plan ahead. Set up the directions to your destination and select your music before you drive.
  • Park before you eat.
  • Set your phone on silent or put it on "do not disturb."
  • Don't become a distracting passenger. Help the driver by being an extra pair of eyes on the road.

Preventing Drowsy Driving

  • Get enough sleep before driving.
  • Always check your prescription and over-the-counter medication labels to see if drowsiness could result from their use.
  • Before starting a long car trip, get a good night's sleep and plan stops along the way.

Learn more about preventing impaired driving, supporting teens to drive safely, and state laws here.

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Upcoming Events & Resources

Free Planet Fitness High School Summer Pass Begins June 1

Between June 1 and August 31, teens between the ages of 14-19 can work out at Planet Fitness for free all summer long! Follow these easy steps to pre-register for your free High School Summer Pass membership and get ready for your most energized summer yet!

  • Pre-register here.
  • Download the Planet Fitness App to get your digital club pass.
  • Work out at your home club for free from June 1 to August 31!

Learn more here.

SummerQuest 2024

From June through August, visit Alexandria Library locations in person and online to participate in SummerQuest. Through this free reading program, participants of all ages, including teens and adults, can earn prizes for reading and completing activities, including free books, gift card drawing entries, and tickets to a Washington Nationals game. Learn more at alexlibraryva.org/summerquest.

Interested in supporting outreach efforts during the community cookouts? Volunteers help share resources with youth and families while enjoying free food and fun activities. Contact Emma Beall at emma.beall@alexandriava.gov to learn more or to sign up.

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Alexandria Teen Life
Contact Us
Emma Beall, MPH
SAPCA Coordinator
O: 703.746.3670 
C: 571.302.1022

Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition of Alexandria 

4850 Mark Center Drive

Alexandria, VA 22311