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The Bear River Health Department (BRHD) is seeking proposals for projects that address root causes and factors associated with the youth use of electronic cigarettes, marijuana, and other drugs.

While we face a COVID-19 pandemic, we also face a national crisis, the e-cigarette epidemic among youth. The Surgeon General states that e-cigarettes are not harmless and usually contain nicotine, which, when exposed to adolescents, can harm the developing brain and increase the risk for future addiction to other substances.

According to the 2019 Student Health and Risk Prevention (SHARP) Statewide Survey, the use of ecigarettes among Utah’s youth continues to increase. Since 2011, vaping rates among Utah youth have increased 553%. In addition to e-cigarettes, there were other notable substance trends. In the Bear River health district, which includes Box Elder, Cache, and Rich counties, one in five 12th graders have tried alcohol, while marijuana use rates continue to rise. In 2019, 6.1% of 12th graders in the Bear River health district reported that they regularly use marijuana, compared to 4.7% in 2015. Evidence shows that the initiation of substance use in adolescence can lead to higher levels of misuse, abuse, and substance use disorders later in life.

BRHD is interested in working with, and supporting, community coalitions and organizations in the early prevention of adverse outcomes related to youth substance abuse. The aim of this funding is to identify innovative projects and partnerships across Box Elder, Cache, and Rich counties that are committed to addressing “upstream” factors by focusing on one or more risk or protective factors identified in the Utah Student Health and Risk Prevention Statewide (SHARP) Survey.

Risk and protective factors influence a person’s chance of developing a mental and/or substance use disorder. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), effective prevention focuses on reducing those risk factors, and strengthening protective factors, that are most closely related to the problem being addressed.

Applicants may be eligible for anywhere between $50,000 and $100,000 per grant. Project applications will be due no later than 11:59 p.m. October 1, 2020.

A virtual information session will be held Sept. 24 from 2-3 p.m. You may register for the Q& A session at: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEuc--prTgtGdfCkW4p4ZCU7oicftDIl7sn. For more information, visit our webpage at brhd.org.

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