October 28th: DEA Prescription Drug Take Back Day 10am-2pm


Opioid Addiction.  Opioid Crisis. Opioid Epidemic.   Whatever you want to call it, there is a problem.  In the U.S. alone 60,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2016, many could have been prevented. 

Here in Lakewood, 44% of adults surveyed said prescription drug misuse is a serious problem, compared to 29% statewide.  

You can do something about this! 

Here's How: 

Come safely dispose of your meds on National Prescription Drug Take Back Day: 

October 28th from 10am-2pm 


  • Springbrook Park

  • Tillicum Library

  • Lakewood Police Station (year round)

  • Walgreens in Lakewood (year round)  

In partnership with Lakewood Police: Come & Drop off your unused or expired meds & make a difference!

learn more at: DEA Drug Take Back Day 

3 reasons to visit September Lakewood's CHOICE meeting...

Summer is over.  The school year has begun!   

With it comes a renewed feeling of normal.  And also the familiar flurry of regularly scheduled commitments. 

So, Why would you make Lakewood's CHOICE one of them?


Here's 3 reasons: 

1) Impact youth through drug prevention

2) Hear & tell inspiring stories to renew our sense of purpose

3) Get to know other leaders in Lakewood who care a lot about kids & work together! 


You're invited to join us for our September meeting: This Wednesday September 27th at 3pm at the Lakewood Boys & Girls Club. BBQ right after at 4:30pm.


Here's a few items we're planning to cover:

+ DEA Drug Take Back Day- October 28th in Tillicum & Springbrook

+ Announcing new members of Leadership Team

+ Unveil newest action plan

+ Community survey contest

+ Prevention Teams at Lochburn & Clover Park

+ Special Guest: Sgt. Jackie Eliason from Liquor & Cannabis Board

Also, in case 3 reasons weren't enough...

***Bonus 4th reason- Free BBQ hot dogs & hamburgers at 4:30pm following the meeting!

All are invited to hang out after the meeting.***

We want to hear from you...Lakewood's CHOICE Community Survey 2017

Lakewood's CHOICE substance abuse prevention coalition is kicking off our annual Community Survey Campaign.  We'd love to hear from you about what's really affecting you.  

Who can take the survey? Anyone over 18 who lives in Lakewood.  

Why an annual survey? Because opinions change, people change, and a community changes.  Our goal is to respond effectively to these changes in order to help create healthy families & resilient youth.  The link to the survey is below.  We're so grateful for all the support we've already gotten so far! 

Here's some sample questions:

"Is Marijuana a problem for youth in Lakewood?...If so, how serious?" 

"Are depression or suicide a problem for youth in Lakewood?"  

"How effective are police at responding to underage parties with drinking and drugs?" 

Let us know what you think: Lakewood's CHOICE Community Survey Link 2017

Lakewood's CHOICE Unveils new Strategic Plan at June meeting

It's time to celebrate!


Lakewood's CHOICE prevention coalition has been busy. 

With what?

This Wednesday, we'll finally get to show you why we've been so busy.  We're excited to unveil our new Strategic Plan!

On Wednesday June 7th at 1pm at the Lakewood Boys & Girls Club Lakewood's CHOICE will be sharing the outcome of months of meetings, data review, and strategic planning.  This will be a time to celebrate all the hard work and excitedly look into the future to see the impact we can have together for youth!  As a coalition of people, we all play a part in our plan.  Whether it's bringing a meal to a parenting class, leading a coffee talk, or creating our strategic plan: Everyone is important! 

See you June 7th 1:00pm at Lakewood Boys & Girls Club! Appetizers & refreshments will be served.   

Supporting youth, preventing treatment

Bringing drugs to school.  Suspension.  Even Expulsion.  Assessment.  Treatment.  Start again.  This is a vicious cycle for some kids in Lakewood that interferes with their life and school.  In order to prevent this cycle for kids Lakewood’s CHOICE is facilitating what are called "Curriculum-Based Support Groups" for youth in Lakewood. These support groups provide activities and conversations so youth can celebrate successes in their lives and discuss handling challenges.  The youth learn that they can make healthy choices when dealing with stress, anger and negative peer pressure. The groups create a safe place for youth to interact &  provide youth the opportunity to see themselves as leaders in their schools and communities who are capable of choosing healthy options.   Click "Get Involved"  to learn more about these groups & how you can support youth in Lakewood.


"Coming to group is the highlight

of my week" 

Voices of Lakewood youth: Thoughts on Marijuana

Youth have a lot to say about Marijuana.  They see it and smell it in their schools, neighborhoods, & homes. Over the past few months there's been a lot of conversation between adults in response to a recent article in the TNT, found here: "Ban Pot or Don't: Decide, Lakewood".  I wanted to hear from youth since they have opinions, attitudes, and are strong leaders in our community.  The youth of Lakewood are amazing & are really involved in this community, which is so inspiring!  I was honored and grateful to ask them the question,

"What do you think about Lakewood opening pot shops?"

"I think that it's dangerous" -Michael, 6th grade

"People will be buying & selling it more...grown men and women would walk around selling it to kids" -Diana, 6th grade

"Where I live, we live by 3 corner stores & when you're standing at the bus stop there's a guy smoking right near my stop...it would only get worse" -Jewel, 6th grade

"Kids would have more access to Marijuana in Lakewood"  -Jamal, 11th grade

"Kids would do the same thing they do with alcohol...wait outside the pot shops...ask someone going in to buy it for them and they get it easy." -Greg, 11th grade

LISTEN2YOURSELFIE campaign comes to Lakewood

"What's Important to you?"

For the youth in Lakewood, we've been asking them this question the last month.  The answers probably won't surprise you.  Check out a few of our interviews by clicking on the words below:

"Family"                  "Teachers"

"Football"                "Friends"

Lakewood's CHOICE is launching a statewide campaign called Listen2yourselfie to engage youth to "Remember what's important: Forget Marijuana".  We're working alongside youth leaders to interview other youth, pass out posters at businesses, place a preview in the movie theatre, & ending it all with a youth led late night event for Middle Schoolers in Lakewood on March 11th.   

We know youth in Lakewood will face many hard things in 2017. Whether it's school stress, the stress poverty brings, or thinking about their futures: youth have as much stress as you or me.    We're inviting all youth through this campaign to look at what's important to them & forget Marijuana.  Will you join us in asking youth, "What's important?"  

8th grade marijuana, alcohol, & prescription drug use in decline

"Clearly our public health prevention efforts, as well as policy changes to reduce availability, are working to reduce teen drug use, especially among eighth graders," said Nora D. Volkow, M.D., director of NIDA.
Quick Facts about the Monitoring the Future Study:
  • Monitoring the Future is an ongoing study of the behaviors, attitudes, and values of American teens and young adults.
  • Survey conducted by the University of Michigan of 45,473 8th, 10th, & 12th graders taken from 372 public & private schools nationwide.  
3 things we learned from the 2016 monitoring the future study for 8th graders:
1)  Annual Marijuana use for 8th graders dropped sharply in 2016 to 9.4 percent from 11.8 percent just 1 year ago.   
2)  Alcohol use- 17.6 percent of eighth graders report past year use, compared to the peaks of 65.3 percent in 2000 among 10th graders and 46.8 percent in 1994 among eighth graders.
3) Annual Prescription amphetamines and other stimulants abuse for 8th graders has fallen to 3.5   percent -down from recent peak levels of 9 percent reached during the last half of the 1990s.
While this is encouraging news for us doing prevention, there still is much work to do. Marijuana use still remains high for 12th ­graders & in states with medical marijuana, edibles are growing in popularity. 
To get involved with Lakewood's CHOICE: http://www.lakewoodschoice.com/get-involved/

Going After the Roots

If you’ve ever finished the grueling task of digging up blackberry bushes roots & all, then you know how challenging prevention is.  The problem is we often don’t get the roots because we’re missing something.  We’re missing the right tools, manpower, time, or gumption to get at the root of the problem, literally.  Lakewood's CHOICE works diligently to use the right tools, manpower, time, & gumption. 


The tools used to do drug prevention involve listening, learning, and applying what we learn with proven strategies.  This year 3 programs have already rolled out that are proven to be impactful in preventing substance abuse.   A curriculum taught to all 9th graders at Cloverpark High School called “Project Success”, an “Incredible Years” parenting series in Spanish, and a support group for boys.  The proven tools for the task at hand. 


Manpower is at the heart of what makes our coalition great! There is a dedicated group of partners, parents, & professionals that inspire daily.  Whether it’s the amazingpartners that came to the 2nd annual block party or the 50 leaders of our city that came to the “Springbrook tour and talk”, Lakewood's CHOICE is indeed fortunate to work alongside so many incredible people sharing the load!   


When do kids have time to use substances? At school, afterschool and summertime.  On many half days Lakewood's CHOICE showed movies for kids, partnered with Pierce College to offer after school robotics, supported a Girl Scout troop, and partnered with many other community organizations to give kids something healthy & valuable to do this summer.


Gumption is defined as a shrewd or spirited initiative and resourcefulness.  Making a dent in the overwhelming trend of Prescription drug abuse, underage Marijuana use, alcohol use, and other issues facing our youth is not for the faint of heart.  It requires for our coalition to swim upstream in order to reduce access to these substances, increase awareness of how harmful they are, and provide other healthy options for youth.    Lakewood's CHOICE is extremely thankful for your support and know we’re never going to get all those roots without everyone digging with us.   



What it means: DEA Announces Marijuana remain illegal as schedule 1 drug

These are confusing times for youth when it comes to the messages they hear about Marijuana.  A schedule 1 drug, that's medicine, that's federally illegal, legal in Washington, but not legally sold here in Lakewood. I'm even confused.  There are a ton of places youth hear messages about this illegal drug.  Whether it's from their friends, parents, police, researchers, school administrators, cannabis shops, or a local black market dealer. Many youth are still confused,

"Is Marijuana legal?" 

"Is Marijuana safe?"

The debate about medicinal Marijuana has strong opinions on both sides.  In a recent article by USA Today it was reported that the DEA denied a petition to reschedule Marijuana.  It remains in the same category as LSD and heroin.   Based on recommendations from the Food & Drug Administration and a lack of conclusive research the DEA has denied a petition to reschedule Marijuana as safe for medicinal use. 

According to this letter from acting DEA Administrator here's why:

1) Marijuana has a high potential for abuse.

2) Marijuana has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.

3) Marijuana lacks accepted safety for use under medical supervision.

So, what does that mean for us in Washington state?

The law (I-502) still says...

  1. Only adults age 21 and older can purchase and possess marijuana.
  2. Adults age 21 and over can purchase up to one ounce of useable marijuana (the harvested flowers, or “bud”), 16 ounces of marijuana-infused edibles in solid form, 72 ounces in liquid form, and 7 grams of marijuana concentrates.
  3. Buying and Selling – Marijuana can only be sold and purchased at state-licensed retail stores.
  4. No Resale or Giveaways – It remains a felony for anyone who is not a licensed retailer to sell or provide marijuana to anyone else. Providing or selling marijuana to a minor under the age of 18 can result in up to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
  5. Public Use – It is illegal to consume marijuana in view of the public.
  6. Driving – It is illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana if you have more than 5 nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood. Doing so may result in significant legal penalties.

All sides of this debate can agree that we want what's best for the kids of our neighborhoods. They are our future. How could we work together to give clear messages to kids that Marijuana will negatively affect their future, their independence, and their dreams?  Let's dream about seeing all kids go to school, graduate, do something special with their lives, & aspire to be in control of their future!    



Lakewood Leaders Show Up

On June 1st leaders in Lakewood joined together in Springbrook to learn, share, & commit to taking action at the "Springbrook Tour & Talk".  On what you may ask? The real challenges facing our kids in Lakewood like easy access to drugs, shortage of positive activities, and creating a healthier future. We also hear of these challenges in the news with reports on Heroin & prescription overdoses, changing Marijuana laws, and youth delinquency.  Just from this one event where over 50 leaders gathered, there are many things to celebrate:

  • 29 leaders in all committed to being a resource to help youth in Lakewood:
  • 11 new partners committed to meet with us & engage in substance abuse prevention for youth!
  • 12 organizations want to increase awareness for their staff on substance abuse issues facing their youth!
  • 14 committed to advising & reviewing our strategic plan this next year!
  • 19 committed to attend a Lakewood’s CHOICE coalition meeting!
  • 13 committed to attending the Springbrook Block Party & Resource Fair (July 29th, 1pm-4pm @ Springbrook Park)

After looking carefully at all the responses from leaders, parents, & youth, it's clear there’s a wealth of leadership in this community & the solutions are already here!  Overall the diversity & creativity of ideas brought forth affecting substance abuse, public health, infrastructure, equity, community, landlord/tenant law, parks, & our kids was nothing short of amazing.   A lot of the great conversation focused on projects, initiatives, & ideas that will be best led by each expert in their respective field as we continue to proactively learn more, grow, & take action together. 

Having said that, Lakewood’s CHOICE received an amazing gift in being able to identify solutions from the leaders in our community that match up with our area of focus: Youth substance abuse prevention in Lakewood!  The three themes for solutions that emerged from our key leaders were:

1.     Educating youth & families on substance abuse

2.     Community based programs & initiatives (i.e. block watch, alanon, etc.)

3.     Increasing community connection.  (safety & sense of belonging)

We'll be following up soon to make sure we capitalize on all of the commitments made above! If you were unable to make the event last month & want to learn more, I have good news for you: It’s not too late! We are passionate about engaging with you on the issues that matter.  Please let us know how we can be a resource for you as you’ve already been a huge resource for us!

What Is Prevention?

In our culture, results talk.

We feel good when the job is done and our to-do lists are completed.  We'll stay late and work overtime if it means we can cross it off the list.  That's why mowing the lawn is so great when you're finished.  You can look back & see the direct results! Getting results is what matters.  Right?  

The other day I was trying to explain what Lakewood's CHOICE does & the results we're seeing in the Springbrook neighborhood of Lakewood.  After trying to explain to this eager school counselor what we do, I could see by his facial expression that he didn't get it.  He's not alone.  He didn't understand how prevention is getting results.   Honestly, sometimes it's hard to explain ALL the different things we do.  I started clumsily by saying we do community dinners, a parenting series, a prevention club in the high school, community movies, block parties, etc...& then I realized this is only a portion of what we do.  We will do everything in our power  to ensure less kids are using drugs & alcohol.  We, in substance abuse prevention value results too.   One of the main differences is that our timeline to achieve results can be longer & harder to see.  We want the results to last for generations.  We want kids to not just say "no" to substances, but choose healthy options, thrive, and invite others to thrive with them!  

We look carefully & thoughtfully about what communities want, what they need, & what the  risks/protections are for youth before jumping in with answers.  It's important to us what everyone has to say.  We know for a community, school, family, or individual to implement change, they have to want it & own it. 

So, while we focus our doing on stuff we know that works (aka Evidenced Based Programs)...We also continue focusing our energy on building awareness about the risks around drug use, cutting off the access of drugs/alcohol/tobacco, & giving kids & families healthy options!   

I'm grateful for all the friends we've made along the way in accomplishing results & am excited to meet more!


~James from CHOICE