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The War On Drugs: AFRC ‘taking a whole new approach to drug demand reduction’
Dr. Don Jenrette speaks to Drug Demand Reduction Program managers and technicians at the Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist Training Course. Air Force Reserve Command is teaching its DDRP?professionals to be preventionists as well as testing administrators.
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The War On Drugs: AFRC ‘taking a whole new approach to drug demand reduction’

Posted 7/24/2012   Updated 7/24/2012 Email story   Print story


by Bo Joyner
Air Force Reserve Command

7/24/2012 - Citizen Airman/Aug 2012 -- Dr. Don Jenrette has passed out a lot of promotional items in his day. As the Air Force Reserve Command Drug Demand Reduction Program manager for the past 14 years, he's handed out more magnetic calendars, notebooks, pens and stress balls than he could possibly count. If you've been around the Air Force Reserve for a while, you've probably got something with the Drug Demand Reduction Program's familiar "True Blue" logo on it.

But, as Jenrette knows, it takes more than lanyards and key chains to win the war on drugs.

"My job is to drive down the number of positive drug testing results by our Reservists," Jenrette said. "By doing this we can, in turn, reduce the number of Airmen needed to replace those administratively separated from the Air Force Reserve for positive drug test results."

For years, the number of positive test results has been rising across the board -- for the
active-duty Air Force, the Reserve and the National Guard. And as the Air Force begins testing for a number of prescription drugs, the rates are expected to rise even more.

"It's definitely a challenge, but our goal is to reverse this trend of rising positive test results," Jenrette said.

To help him reach this goal, Jenrette decided to look for a little outside help.

"We went straight to the world-class experts," he said. "For the past three years, we've been partnering with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to change the way we approach drug demand reduction in the Air Force Reserve. The SAMHSA team is an integral part of the federal government's Department of Health and Human Services. They know what has worked and what has not worked regarding the world of substance abuse prevention education.

"For years, the people who ran the drug demand reduction programs at our AFRC bases viewed themselves as testing administrators only," Jenrette said. "Now, with the help and expertise of SAMHSA, we're focusing on teaching and equipping our Drug Demand Reduction Program managers and technicians to be preventionists as well.

"AFRC and SAMHSA have collectively tailored a Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist Training Course to provide a knowledge base of the history of substance abuse in America, the role of the media, prevention strategies and methods of evaluation. When our Drug Demand Reduction Program professionals complete the week-long course, they leave with an individually tailored and workable action-oriented substance abuse prevention education strategy. That base-level strategy is designed to decrease positive drug test numbers. And, according to the SAMHSA experts, that won't happen overnight but will take a team effort over a number of years."

Since June 2009, more than half of the assigned DDRP professionals have completed the training course.

"The good news is that the course is now AFRC-centric," Jenrette said. "Recently, we had two of the SAMHSA trainers learn and experience the AFRC culture by visiting one of our standalone AFRC bases, and that visit moved our trainers and training curriculum ahead by light years."

Jenrette said eventually AFRC's Prevention Strategy Team will take responsibility for teaching the SAMHSA-developed curriculum. The PST is made up of full-time civilians assigned to AFRC standalone bases responsible for drug testing and prevention education.

"Now that we've stood up a formal training platform with the great help from SAMHSA, we are ensuring its sustainability for years to come," Jenrette said.

"We're taking a whole new approach to drug demand reduction," he said. "Even though workplace drug testing is here to stay, drug prevention education is also a primary prevention tool. No doubt, as we continue to spread the drug prevention word throughout the Air Force Reserve, we'll start to see some of the results we're looking for."

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