Alternative activites? What’s that?

~by Nancy Rowedder, New Opportunities prevention specialist 

What do yoga, fishing, playing team sports, 4-H, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, reading, craft making, baking, movie marathons, or running a business have in common? These are all activities that adults and youth can do that discourage substance abuse.

The prevention world calls these alternative activities. According to the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, “alternatives” is defined as those that provide targeted populations with activities that are free of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs. The assumption is that constructive and healthy activities offset the attraction to or otherwise meet the needs usually filled by alcohol, tobacco, and drugs.

Alternative activities typically promote skills or knowledge that might cause participants to refrain from future alcohol and drug use. They can occupy free time that may otherwise be idle or unstructured. Alternative activities can provide meaningful involvement in the community and give the opportunity to interact with peers in social activities, as well as help build positive relationships with adults.

New Opportunities prevention consultants have been working in the area to generate a list of alternative activities available to youth and adults. Most communities indicated the following alternative activities as being available. 4-H, public library programs, mentoring, church youth groups, summer camps, bowling leagues, vacation bible school, swimming pools, and fitness/recreational centers.

A recent poll among area children indicated that kids were active in playing outside, camping, running, sports, playing in the sprinkler, swimming, going to the zoo, squats, and jumping on the trampoline.

What kind of healthy alternative activities can you think of? Keep your eye open for our upcoming directory on our company website, www.newopp.org.

Persons who want more information can visit www.samhsa.gov.

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