Prime for Life takes nonjudgmental approach to address risks of substance use with teens at Machias Memorial High School
December 31, 2015

Ninth grade students at Machias Memorial High School (MMHS) recently completed Prime for Life, an evidence-based prevention and intervention program developed by the Prevention Research Institute that helps teens and adults learn to reduce their risks of alcohol and drug related problems throughout life. Healthy Acadia’s Terri Woodruff and Jenny Robish, nationally-certified Prime for Life Instructors, met with the students twice weekly in November and December.

Over the course of the six-hour program, students learned the nature and causes of substance use, discussed the risks of use, and reviewed specific, research-based guidelines for reducing their risk. MMHS Education Technician Wanda Locke, who also participated in the program, reported that “[the program] was excellent. The instructors were knowledgeable in the subject area and made it understandable to the students, without criticizing students’ opinions.”

MMHS Principal Brian Leavitt and Mike Worcester, the students’ health and physical education teacher, supported the inclusion of Prime for Life program as part of school-wide substance abuse prevention measures administered during Alcohol Awareness Month (December). In early December, the entire MMHS student body watched When You Say No to Alcohol, a film created by the Maine State Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services that profiles five Maine students who have chosen not to drink alcohol. On December 15, Skip Gates, creator of the short documentary film “The Opiate Effect,” visited the school to show the film and share his personal story. After his son Will’s death from a heroin overdose in 2009, Gates began a journey to educate as many people as possible of the dangers and consequences of heroin use and discuss how the nation is dealing with the problem. Gates also appeared at Jonesport-Beals High School, Washington Academy, and Narraguagus High School during the same week.

In addition to the Prime for Life program, Healthy Acadia also offers SIRP in Washington County, or Student Intervention & Reintegration Program, an education-based program for youth who may be experimenting with alcohol or other drugs. SIRP is a 12-hour, small-group program that can be implemented to support youth and adults in making low-risk drug and alcohol choices in their daily lives. Healthy Acadia provides both “Prime for Life” and SIRP free of charge to the schools or communities that choose to implement the programs.

If your school or community is interested in implementing Prime for Life or SIRP in Washington County, please contact: Terri Woodruff at (207) 255-3741/; if you are interested in the Prime for Life program in Hancock County, please contact Maria Donahue at 667-7171/ Healthy Acadia is the Healthy Maine Partnership serving Washington and Hancock counties. The non-profit 501(c3) organization is committed to empowering people to build vibrant, healthy communities by making it easier for them to make healthy choices for themselves and their families.