The Life of an Athlete prevention program helps high school students understand how sleep and nutrition — and substance use — affect their performance on the field.
GOAL: All kids live healthy lives free of substance use
Why it matters
Leaders from Concord High School’s sports teams listen intently as a guest speaker from the Life of an Athlete program talks about alcohol.
Alcohol, he explains, is a metabolic poison. As the body works to eliminate the poison, lung capacity is diminished. Reaction time is slowed. You can’t accelerate as fast, lateral speed is diminished and endurance suffers. Use of alcohol, he says, reduces performance potential in high school athletes by between 15 and 30 percent.
You can almost hear the calculations whizzing. That’s about 17 miles per hour off an 85-mph fastball. That’s 2.4 seconds added to a 12-second 100m time.
That’s real. Much more real than that puzzling egg-in-the-frying-pan metaphor of a generation ago.
The science has the kids riveted: One night of binge drinking wipes out the equivalent of two weeks of training. Student athletes who drink have a 54 percent rate of injury, compared with 24 percent for those who don’t. And the science is working. Evidence shows that the program changes behavior.
Life of an Athlete is offered by the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association. The idea is to drive culture change across entire school communities, starting with athletes — who often lead in other areas. It is one of many proven prevention programs and protocols that the Foundation supports.
Prevention during adolescence is key: Adolescence through young adulthood is a critical period for brain development and the time when addiction is most likely to take root. Quality prevention programs help young people make healthy choices and grow into healthy adults who will sustain our communities tomorrow.
New Hampshire’s young people have some of the highest rates of substance use in the country. Addiction to alcohol and other drugs is a public health crisis that threatens our young people’s physical, emotional and economic well-being, and has ripple effects across public health, public safety and the economy. For every dollar invested in prevention, treatment and recovery, up to $12 are returned in productivity and earnings, and in avoided health care and other societal costs.
The Foundation’s goal of a 5 percent decrease in youth alcohol use by 2017 was met in early 2015 and we continue to work toward further improvement. We are also working to reduce rates of use of other drugs and to have 10,000 youth receive medical screening for substance use by 2017.
All of our kids need prevention education that keeps them healthy. And, should they need it, kids deserve community support and access to the treatment that will help them recover.
We’re working to:
- Increase access to treatment and recovery services.
- Prevent substance use by expanding proven programs.
- Expand the number of medical providers asking teens about
their substance use.
- Strengthen public policy and funding to expand prevention, treatment and recovery programs.
Each of these goals is dependent on the dedicated work, collaboration and commitment of scores of partners. Please see list below.
PARTNERS AND GRANTEES*
Screen and Intervene, a NH Youth SBIRT Initiative
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center
Health First Family Care Center
Goodwin Community Health
Manchester Community Health Center
Mid-State Community Health Center
Valley Regional Hospital
Weeks Medical Center
White Mountain Community Health Center