The Vermont Department of Health (VDH), Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs (ADAP) is seeking a marketing, communications and public health education services (sometimes called counter-marketing or health promotions) to reduce substance abuse and misuse in Vermont.
Background and Need Statement
VDH ADAP employs a comprehensive approach to improve health outcomes and reduce alcohol and other drug related problems. This includes prevention, early intervention, treatment, and recovery services. ADAP works with a statewide network of partners and providers including schools, community coalitions, health care systems, and treatment and recovery centers.
The communications strategy is intended to support and augment other evidence-based interventions underway to achieve our objectives.
ADAP’s Strategic Plan includes two public health communications goals:
- Increase the public understanding of substance abuse issues and Vermont’s system of prevention, treatment and recovery services.
- Develop and implement a limited number of messages to reach targeted populations. Targeted messaging is intended to enhance a comprehensive set of services aimed at these goals:
o Reduce past-month use of alcohol and illicit substances among adolescents (age 12-17)
o Reduce percent of individuals age 12 and older engaging in binge drinking
o Reduce past month misuse of opioids among people age 12 and older
o Reduce percent of people age 12 and older who needed and did not receive treatment for substance use disorders
According to the 2015 Vermont Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), 30% of students in grades 9-12 reported drinking alcohol during the past 30 days, and 16% binged on alcohol (had 5 or more drinks within a couple of hours) during the past 30 days. Research has demonstrated that children who begin drinking alcohol before age 15 are five times more likely to develop alcohol problems than those who start after age 21. According to the 2013-2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 46.8% of 18-25 year-olds in Vermont binged in the past month.
In Vermont, more teens enter treatment with a primary diagnosis for marijuana dependence than all other illicit drugs combined. According to the 2015 YRBS, 22% of all high school students used marijuana during the past 30 days, and in the past 30 days, nearly a third (31%) of current users reported using marijuana one or two times, and almost half (45%) used marijuana 10 or more times. This is concerning because early and heavy marijuana use is associated with increased injury, declining school and work, substance use disorders later in life, and other negative health outcomes. The 2013-2014 NSDUH identifies Vermont with the second highest rate in the nation of past month marijuana use among 18-25 year-olds at 30.6%, surpassed only by Colorado at 31.2%.
In 2015, the percent of Vermont students in grades 9-12 who think people their age greatly risk harming themselves if they use marijuana regularly is 27%, which significantly decreased from 31% in 2013 (YRBS). Additionally, research indicates that prevalence of use is correlated with perception of risk, in that the lower a person’s perception that a substance is risky or harmful, the higher the prevalence of use (Monitoring The Future, 2016).
To date, marijuana specific communication strategies have included publications posted on the VDH website, educational presentations, marijuana prevention messaging on the ParentUpVT.org website, and through social media posts.
Prescription drug misuse is a significant public health and public safety issue. In 2015, 11% of students in grades 9-12 reported ever taking a prescription pain reliever or stimulant not prescribed to them (YRBS). According to the 2013-2014 NSDUH, 7.6% of Vermonters ages 18-25 reported non-medical use of prescription pain relievers in the last year. Vermont had the second highest per capita rate of all states for admissions to treatment for prescription opiates in 2011. The majority (60%) of these admissions were young people, 20 to 29 years old.
Vermont’s strategy to address opioid abuse and misuse include five key areas:
Scope of Work
The Contractor will be responsible for executing effective strategies and social marketing campaigns to prevent substance abuse and misuse in Vermont.
Marijuana Use Prevention Among Adolescents
- Development, implementation, and evaluation of a parent campaign promoting marijuana-specific messaging, as well as resiliency and alcohol, tobacco, and other drug messaging via the existing ParentUpVT.org platform. Messaging objectives should include that parents are the #1 influence, and understanding the risks associated with adolescent marijuana use.
- Research, development, implementation, and evaluation of a second concurrent campaign targeting youth around the age of initiation, including non-users vulnerable to risk factors and “on the edge” of marijuana use. Messaging objectives should increase the perceived risk of harm from marijuana, and reduce the perception among youth that most people use marijuana.
- Development of information materials for parents and adolescents on the risks of marijuana use, to be distributed at well-care visits through pediatric health care practices, developed in partnership with the Vermont Department of Health Division of Maternal Child Health.
Opioid Misuse and Overdose Prevention
- Development, implementation, and evaluation of a health education campaign to increase the perception of risk associated with prescription pain reliever misuse, and transition to other opioids such as heroin, targeting Vermont young adults age 18-25. Brand and message concepts have been developed.
- Research, development, implementation, and evaluation of a campaign on the responsible use of prescription pain relievers, targeting adults age 18 and older, focusing on reducing the supply of prescription opioids. Messaging objectives should encourage patients to talk with their doctor about the risks of prescription pain relievers, and promote shared decision-making, including pain management expectations.
- Utilization of existing research for the development, implementation, and evaluation of a campaign targeting health care providers to improve prescriber practices related to prescription drugs. Messaging objectives should align with concurrent or planned opioid campaign messages, promote the proper use of the Vermont Prescription Drug Monitoring System (VPMS), and provide actionable tools and resources to support prescribers with the substance abuse referral process.
- Research, development, implementation, and evaluation of a public campaign on safe storage and disposal of prescription medications, including conducting updated consumer research on the existing “Vermont’s Most Dangerous Leftovers” campaign prior to a media buy.
- Development of information materials for parents and adolescents on the risks of prescription drug abuse, to be distributed at well-care visits through pediatric health care practices, developed in partnership with the Vermont Department of Health Division of Maternal Child Health.
Underage and High-Risk Alcohol Use Prevention
- Utilization or expansion on existing creative to purchase and implement paid media strategies promoting ParentUpVT.org during April Alcohol Awareness month, or high-risk times throughout the year, including prom, graduation, or the back-to-school season in the fall.
- Development of a strategy proposal for a highly segmented prevention campaign targeting adolescents engaging in underage and/or high-risk drinking behaviors.
- Depending on budget, development of a strategy proposal for a prevention campaign targeting college students engaging in high-risk drinking behaviors.
Resources on Accessing Substance Abuse Services
- Conducting research on perceptions and barriers to accessing substance abuse services.
- Development and submission of a recommendations report based on research findings.
- Development and promotion of materials or tools for the public on how to access substance abuse treatment services.
Proposal due on November 18th, 2016
State of Vermont Department of Health
Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs
108 Cherry Street, P.O. Box 70
Burlington, VT 05402-0070
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