LUK, Inc. Blog

A Holiday Message

by Maurie Bergeron, Director of TIL Services

When we think about the holidays, it often conjures up scenes of family dinners, laughing, roaring fires, eating, drinking, gifts, beautiful lights, and trees. We associate words like joy, peace, sharing, giving, warmth, and togetherness. Christmas music saturates the airwaves in November and store displays announce the coming season sometimes before all the leaves have even hit the ground.  We are inundated by these images, and with the support of the media we construct a vision of how things are "supposed to be."  We internalize this vision and create stories about the fact that if we are "good" our holiday will look like this as well. 

Unfortunately in the real world - the world outside of marketing and media - in the world where people are unique and families are multi-dimensional and thoughts and feelings exist, the reality of this vision is often fleeting at best. Eggnog spills, cats knock over Christmas trees, people get laid off, the baggage of history arrives with family, families fracture and generations of experiences and feelings surface. Whether we are alone or in the midst of people, many of us experience shame or unworthiness - a sense that who we are and what we have can’t and won’t be enough. That somehow if our world deviates from these joy- filled scenarios – we are "bad," that somehow there is something wrong with us.

But this is just not true.  Our vision of how things are "supposed to be" is the problem – not you, not me, not us – but the "supposed to be."  The images of other people, other families are just that – images.

I can remember how families were portrayed on television when I was a child and thinking, "if only we were like that." I can remember going to a friend’s house to play thinking, "if only we were like this." The television families were actors, quite honestly – many of whom struggled a great deal in their lives and some who sadly lost that struggle. As for my friend’s family, nothing was as perfect as it seemed, I found out, when her parents got divorced and my friend moved away.

The concept of "supposed to be" is fraught with misinformation and pain. And the premise that somehow during a particular time of year we should be kind to one another, that we should be grateful and giving, well in my humble opinion, this is misguided as well.

Let us begin now to work towards accepting the reality of who we are in real life – as real people with real problems, sorrows, joys and gifts. Let us allow ourselves to be imperfect, different than what we are told we are "supposed to be," because we are so much more than that. You are so much more than that. Let us be gentle with ourselves and allow ourselves to recognize it is okay to be sad if we feel sad. Whatever you feel is authentically yours. Own it. Let us recognize that if the holiday season is hard for you, there is nothing wrong with you. You are perfectly you. There is no shame in struggling through this time of year – nor is there shame in rejoicing in it. There is no right way to do this. There is only your way. And let us not forget that what we see is not always real, that we are not alone in our struggles. Let us remember that each of us wrestles with our history, our ghosts, differently, so be kind – always – not just during the holidays.

There may be times when our feelings can become more than we believe we can handle. There may be times when we feel we are totally alone and want to give up. There is always hope and you are never truly alone. If you need someone to reach out to – you can call any of these hotlines 24 hrs. a day, 365 days a year  National Suicide Prevention Hotline  Trans Lifeline  VA Suicide Hotline


Remember you are worthy. You are perfectly you. Peace - always.

How Mental Health Can Affect Substance Use Disorders

by Libby Baker, SAPC West Coordinator

For Substance Abuse Prevention Month, LUK is featuring a series of blogs specially discussing substance abuse prevention activities.

In recent years, Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) have been identified as a mental health illness. For many people, another mental health illness comes along with SUDs and it’s hard to identify which one started first. SAMHSA has designed the SPF (Strategic Prevention Framework) to provide a community based approach for prevention, intervention, and treatment for both.  

SAMHSA estimates that, as of 2014, 43.6 million people have a mental illness in the United States. In the same survey, it is estimated that 20.2 million people have a SUD and 7.9 million suffer from both. Mental illnesses can have a big impact on how we make choices and socialize with other people, as well as our mood, thinking, and behavior. Sometimes the biggest coping mechanisms for those that aren’t in treatment for their mental illness is a behavior that can end up being very dangerous, such as SUDs.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse those with a severe mental illness are 4 times more likely to be considered a heavy alcohol user, which means consuming 4 or more drinks per day. They are also 3.5 times more likely to regularly use marijuana and 4.6 times more likely to use other drugs. The biggest relationship, however, is with smoking. Those with a severe mental illness are 5.1 times more likely to smoke daily. So the question now becomes: if we were to crack down on those with mental illness and get them into treatment, can we prevent these 7.9 million people from having a SUD as well? With increased mental health services and better access, it’s possible. The first thing that will need to be done is to Shatter the Stigma on mental health and SUDs. Stigmatization is the greatest barrier to individuals seeking help, because they feel as though they will be looked down on. We will also need to watch for warning signs in our friends and family members. If you think someone who may need help, say something. For all the teens out there, Instagram has developed a new feature where you can flag a picture if you think someone might be fighting a battle that they need help (and it’s completely anonymous).  Together we can help the people we love get the services we need and decrease that 7.9 million people who have a mental illness and a Substance Use Disorder.

For information on you can help Shatter the Stigma to help people access services please visit

For more information about LUK’s Substance Abuse Prevention Services, please visit, call 800-579-0000, or like the Prevention Facebook page at


Compliance Checks

By Libby Baker, SAPC West Coordinator

For Substance Abuse Prevention Month, LUK is featuring a series of blogs specially discussing substance abuse prevention activities.

\Have you heard of Compliance Checks?

Compliance checks are tool used to prevent youth access to alcohol. It is one of the many techniques use by LUK to prevent underage substance use and keep our communities safe During a compliance check, an undercover youth (who is under 21 and under the supervision of law enforcement personnel) goes into a liquor store and tries to buy alcohol. We ask our youth not to carry any I.D. with them while they are doing their part in the compliance check, and here’s why:  if the store fails to ask for the I.D., the youth simply walks away, and the store is penalized. However, if the youth is asked to show identification, then we know that the establishment is doing its due diligence. Either way, the purchase is never completed.

Compliance checks are a fairly simple and effective tool; they have been shown to reduce crime and alcohol-related problems among youth. When the law is enforced by not selling alcohol to someone who is underage, we’re helping to prevent a variety of risky behaviors, including driving under the influence, violence, and unsafe sex, which can lead to sexually transmitted diseases or unintended pregnancy. Compliance checks also send a message – they remind people that preventing underage drinking takes a community effort.

Prior to performing compliance checks in the community, an announcement is publicized with a date range for the checks. This can allow for managers to review policies with staff, and helps to maintain good relationships between agencies (like LUK), and the stores. By working together, we can help keep our communities educated and safe. Remember: in keeping with the law, only adults aged 21 or over can purchase and consume alcohol.

Check back next week for information about TIPS (Training for Intervention ProcedureS)! 

For more information about prevention in your community, visit, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or follow us on Facebook at


Environmental Prevention of Underage Drinking


Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility

TIPS Training for Our Servers: Why is this Crucial?

By Libby Baker, SAPC West Coordinator

For Substance Abuse Prevention Month, LUK is featuring a series of blogs specially discussing substance abuse prevention activities.

It doesn’t matter what bar you go into in the United States, I’m willing to bet that your bartender is going to be TIPS trained (Trainings for Intervention ProcedureS).

This training started in 1982 by Dr. Morris Chafetz. Dr. Chafetz helped found the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse and served as the first director. He developed this program to help bartenders and servers be more confident in their abilities and to prevent the patrons of restaurants from drinking in excess.

This training comes with many benefits for the business, staff, and community. For the businesses, TIPS Training helps with liability concerns, prevents property damage, and legal problems. Not only does TIPS training prevent insurance increases, but can qualify a business for insurance discounts. This training can also help with regulation and with making the establishment more welcoming for customers.The staff the benefit from increasing their skills, and learning how to protect themselves and their employer from legal action in the case of over-serving or serving alcohol to an underage person. Even better, TIPS training may even help increase tips by strengthening their professionalism!

Lastly, TIPS training helps the community by improving education surrounding underage drinking and over-indulgence. Well-trained servers help to decrease the chance of someone driving while intoxicated. This leads to fewer accidents and fewer deaths and injuries, meaning more people can travel safely.

The cost for TIPS training varies by location. However, LUK Prevention staff members qualified to provide TIPS training at a discount to organizations in Fitchburg/Leominster area.  Please call 800-579-0000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information. For more information about TIPS, please visit For more information about LUK’s Substance Abuse Prevention Services, please visit, call 800-579-0000, or like the Prevention Facebook page at

Check back next week for information on the connection between mental health and substance use disorders.

All information taken from the site.

October is Prevention Month!

by Libby Baker, SAPC West Coordinator

Going to the doctor’s office for annual physical is considered preventative care. If the test results show high blood sugar but it isn’t quite yet diabetes, there are many options that that person can choose from to prevent diabetes from happening. These preventative measures are generally accepted throughout the world of medicine so the public sees it all as fact. These preventative measures for physical health and well-being are also usually covered (or at least partially covered) by the individual’s insurance. Take our insurance here at LUK, for example; we can apply for a gym membership reimbursement each year. It may not cover all of my $20 a month Planet Fitness membership, but it covers more than half.

But when it comes to substance use prevention, the options are less well known and also viewed more critically. One of these options is the use of scare tactics, which are generally not great long term solutions. This includes the drunk driver car accidents reenactments that come up around prom season to keep high school students from drinking and driving. Alternatively, there are the styles of substance use prevention that the CES program here at LUK uses. We use the Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) that was developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which uses data to determine what services are needed in each community. This flexibility is helpful since what works for one community may not work for them all.

LUK's Substance Abuse Prevention Team the Gardner Community Action Team (GCAT), the Massachusetts Opioid Abuse Prevention Coalition (MOAPC), and East and West divisions of the Substance Abuse Prevention Collaborative (SAPC). SAPC East covers Fitchburg, Leominster, Clinton, Sterling, and Princeton, while SAPC West covers Gardner, Athol, Phillipston, Royalston, Templeton, and Westminster.

The SPF focuses in on the risk and protective factors in a community that could lead to a substance use disorder. The risk factors include early aggressive behavior, peer substance abuse, lack of parental involvement, and drug availability. Here at LUK, the SAPCs, MOAPC, and GCAT all work together to reduce the risk factors in a community and increase the protective factors. These protective factors include self-control, anti-drug policies, parental monitoring, and strong community programs that promote good choices and make it harder to access substances. These programs have taken several different forms over the years, including sticker shock campaigns to remind adults about social host and liability consequences. The sticker shock campaign involves youth putting stickers on the  paper bag that will contain alcohol when someone buys it from the participating liquor store that say “Furnishing alcohol to minors is illegal” along with the fine that comes along if a person is caught doing so. This also serves as a partnership with the youth, liquor stores, law enforcement, and community members.

Other outreach includes social norming campaigns, which remind youth that the norm is actually not to drink, which they may not realize, especially with the conflicting messages they receive from both peers and the media. School-based programs like Guiding Good Choices and All Stars work with parents and students to promote the protective factors in the community. LUK's Youth Development services also support a community's protective factors. These programs help develop self-esteem and leadership skills in youth, and work to reduce bullying and violence. 

For more information about LUK's Prevention Services, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., call 800-579-0000, visit, and follow LUK Prevention on Facebook at

For Youth Development information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., call 800-579-0000, or visit

October is Substance Abuse Prevention Month, and we will be featuring a weekly post about various aspects of Prevention. Check back next week for information on why Compliance Checks are so important in your community! 

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