SB 166 Aims to Stem Drug Abuse Problem Statewide

HENDERSON, Nev. – Tuesday, February 21, 2017 – Today, SB 166 will be heard at the Nevada Legislature in front of the Senate Education Committee. Sponsored by Senator Patricia Farley, the bill will establish a program to survey public school students on the use and abuse of drugs and alcohol.

According to Dave Marlon, CEO of Solutions Recovery, who will testify on behalf of the bill, currently Nevada has a risk behavior survey targeting youth, but the drug problem has become more acute, to epidemic proportions, and we need to increase the depths of our surveys and the extent of our interventions. “Never before has a study at the level of rigor, scale and specificity this bill proposes been conducted in our state,” said Marlon. “It will allow us to move beyond simple surveillance of substance abuse behaviors to being able to focus more efficiently on prevention.”

“While there is no silver bullet among drug preventions strategies, Roseman University is encouraged that the legislature is considering this bill, which will lead to community-tailored prevention education strategies that can be monitored annually to determine effectiveness,” said Renee Coffman, president of Henderson-based Roseman University of Health Sciences.

Coffman adds, the university supports the bill’s bold initiative because of its decade-long work in the area of drug misuse and abuse research, education, advocacy, and community drug collection initiatives conducted by Roseman’s Research Center on Substance Abuse and Depression and student-led Drug Abuse and Awareness Team (DAAT).

“Roseman University has been a steadfast community partner in addressing the drug abuse crisis in Nevada,” said Coffman. “Our faculty and students are on the front lines with educators, parents, government agencies, and community organizations in the development and implementation of prevention programs that have made an impact in communities across the state. With more robust data, the university, community partners, and other key influencers can more accurately formulate targeted prevention programming to address unique challenges of Nevada’s urban, rural and frontier communities.”

Nationally recognized substance abuse researcher and professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Biological Sciences at the University of Michigan School of Nursing Carol Boyd, PhD, MSN, FAAN says current surveys conducted in Nevada and across the country are often too broad and don’t adequately cover all illicit drugs, tobacco, alcohol and commonly abused prescriptions drugs to quantify abuse, attitudes and perceptions. They also don’t identify regional differences, down to the neighborhood and school level. “With oversight provided by Nevada’s Department of Education, a survey administered electronically with a strong sampling of students from across the state and focusing specifically on substance abuse will be more robust, sensitive and efficient in keeping up with rapidly changing drug trends, particularly on a local community level.”

The proposed legislation raises the bar significantly. “It will be critical in informing public policy and demonstrating expertise on the national stage,” said Boyd. “Nevada is poised to become a national leader in the understanding of substance abuse among different demographic and socioeconomic populations, allowing for real-time prevention-tailored messaging.”

Drug addiction continues to be a national and local crisis. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 50 percent of illicit drug abuse is by those under age 21, and 26 percent of high school students begin drinking by age 13. Prescription drug abuse is on the rise, with half of prescription Opioid abusers under age 17. While national data has been collected starting in 1975 by the Monitoring the Future study, there is limited statewide data to more specifically understand the unique challenges that geography, demographics, availability, and social norms play in assessing the crisis we have at home. Limited available data suggest Nevada youth have increased levels of prevalence compared to their peers nationally.

Founded in Henderson, Nevada in 1999, Roseman University of Health Sciences is a non-profit, private institution of higher learning training the next generation of undergraduate and graduate level health care professionals that serve, collaborate and set new standards in their communities and within their professions. With campuses in Henderson, Summerlin and South Jordan, Utah, the University is comprised of the College of Dental Medicine, offering an Advanced Education in Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics/MBA residency and Doctor of Dental Medicine program; College of Pharmacy, offering a Doctor of Pharmacy and Professional Continuing Education; College of Nursing, offering a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing; and an MBA program. Roseman University of Health Sciences will also offer a Doctor of Medicine through its College of Medicine, with the first incoming class starting in 2017. More than 2,500 Roseman graduates are caring for patients, conducting research, and engaged in public health and policy in Nevada, Utah and across the country. Roseman University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Vanessa Maniago

Jason Roth


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