LUK, Inc. Blog

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


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! 

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

School's Out for Summer!

By: Kelsey Cadran

It’s that time of year again, trees and flowers are in full bloom, and in typical New England fashion, you’ve got a t-shirt on as soon as that thermostat rises above 50. Having four seasons means there’s only so much time to get out and enjoy the lazy hazy days of summer before it becomes apple picking season and the snowflakes start to fall again. What better way to make the best of the season then to get out and get moving!

There are so many opportunities in the area and all over New England. Social media outlets (like Facebook) have recently started being a great resource to find out what’s going on around you. Understandably, there are some choices that may have a cost associated, which could be a deal-breaker for some. Fortunately, there are low- to no-cost options! Since summer does not mean sunshine all the time, there are also a few indoor ideas too!

Low or No Cost Things to Do!

Visit a State Park (hiking, walking, swimming)

Museums (some can have more cost to them, be sure to check out the fees. Some are free!)

Splash Parks & Water Parks

Free Fun Fridays!

Kids Bowl Free!

Other Ideas you may find near you (check out your town calendar, local library, or social media for events and activities):

  • Outdoor Movie Nights
  • Band Concerts
  • Parades
  • Town festivals
  • Charity Events/Road Races
  • Craft Seminars

There are so many benefits to keeping our youth active. During the school year, structured plans driven by the school district are designed to keep kids engaged and active. It’s very important to maintain that engagement through the summer. Often as adults we may find ourselves quite busy, and it is easy to overlook the fact that during the summer, children are not as busy. The activities listed above can be helpful for you to keep your kids and family stimulated and active throughout school break! Summer camps and programs offered by local recreation departments can be a great opportunity as well for youth. Some costs associated with these options can be tough for families to swing, be sure to check into the programs to find out if they offer cost savings for low-income or half day options.

Wishing you a happy and healthy summer!

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