Feature type- news
Group: Hannah, Kelsy, Addie
Feature Writer: Hannah Schilling
Money is the root of all evil.
In Louisiana’s case, money is just the opposite— it is the tool that assures the evil caused by substance abuse does not take root in people.
There are over one million teenagers in Louisiana. Over 90,000 of those teenagers abuse some kind of, or a combination of, substances like alcohol, cocaine, heroin and meth.
Programs in Louisiana like Project Northland are making sure the numbers continue to decrease as they have been doing since the start of the program.
Tommy Grafton, a professor in Louisiana Tech’s kinesiology department and also a director at Project Northland says since the start of the program, the number of middle school kids drinking alcohol regularly has decreased from 10 percent to 5.6 percent.
But is the $204,000 trickled between four parishes enough to keep the prevention going?
“We could always use more money,” Grafton said. “We could use it to provide more activities, but for more activities, we need more personnel. Teachers are already overloaded because of the mandates by the state and government, and they can’t do anything extra.”
Teachers that are continuously working to achieve those high standards is the reason Project Northland must send their own teachers to inform the students about the dangers of drug abuse.
“We are paid so much money per pupil,” Grafton explained. “If our pupil numbers go up, we can go up to a certain amount of money. If our numbers don’t add up to that, we get a smaller budget.”
The balance between budget and students insures that Project Northland never goes into the negative.
The $204,000 is sent from the state’s budget, which comes from the federal government, for prevention is for Project Northland specifically.
Then who funds Lives Lost to Alcohol, the 38 silhouettes that graced the field from March to May, reminding others to think before they act? Who paid for the fake blood and make up that warned the teenagers at Choudrant High School not to drink and drive on prom night?
Grafton said it’s all thanks to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission.
“If it wasn’t for them, Project Northland would be our only activity,” he said. “We have partnered with them to keep activities going like Click It or Ticket or Lives Lost to Alcohol.”
Grafton said Louisiana receives a couple million dollars for abuse prevention for the year.
NBC charges an average of $3.5 million for each 30 second spot for advertisements during the Super Bowl.
That means Budweiser’s one minute commercial with their signature Clydesdale horses during the 2012 Super Bowl cost them $7 million.
“They spend more in one day on an ad than we spend in one year on prevention,” Grafton said.
Ten seconds of a Super Bowl commercial can pay for Louisiana’s entire year of prevention programs.
According to the numbers, the alcohol companies have the deeper root, and the small amount of money set aside for prevention may not be enough to dig that deep.