Dr. Vincent Guilamo-Ramos Awarded $1.5 Million SAMHSA Grant For Youth Alcohol and Opioid Prevention

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has awarded Professor and Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health (CLAFH) Director Vincent Guilamo-Ramos a five-year, $1.5 million grant to implement a community-wide, evidence-based alcohol and opioid prevention program in the Mott Haven neighborhood of New York’s South Bronx.

“Underage drinking and opioid use represent urgent national prevention priorities,” said Dr. Guilamo-Ramos, “and nowhere more so than in the South Bronx, which is the country’s poorest congressional district and a ‘hotspot’ for underage drinking and opioid overdoses.”

The project, called Community Coalitions for Youth and Family Wellbeing, includes activities at the individual, family, and community level that are designed to saturate Mott Haven and achieve sustained, long-term change. At the individual level, the project team will administer brief alcohol/substance use screening and counseling for youth and provide active linkage to services where appropriate. At the family level, they will deliver two evidence-based programs for alcohol and substance use prevention to parents and primary caregivers. And at the community level, they will establish the first registered Opioid Overdose Prevention Program and substance use resource center in Mott Haven to dispense naloxone kits and train community members for overdose response; assemble Community Action Teams on underage drinking and opioid use; and launch a community-wide alcohol/substance use prevention/reduction social marketing campaign. Dr. Guilamo-Ramos and CLAFH research scientists Marco Thimm-Kaiser and Adam Benzekri will evaluate the impact of this five-year community-wide initiative. Dr. Holly Hagan, NYU Professor of Public Health and Director of the Center for Drug Use and HIV/HCV Research (CDUHR) will serve as the project’s epidemiologist.

Dr. Guilamo-Ramos noted that nearly all of Mott Haven’s approximately 100,000 residents are Latino or Black and a third are younger than 21. “Early, middle, and late adolescence represent optimal developmental periods for preventing and reducing alcohol and substance use,” he said. “Consequently, the project is targeted to youth ages 9-20 years old.”

The project is designed to directly reach 1,200 Mott Haven residents per year – or 6,000 over the course of the grant – and will indirectly reach many more through its development of an enduring, community-level alcohol and substance use prevention infrastructure.