Matters of Substance

Matters of Substance is a collaborative column of the Brattleboro Area Prevention Coalition published in the Brattleboro Reformer. Our goal is to develop, implement and support a comprehensive community effort resulting in the prevention and reduction of alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse in the Windham Southeast area.

Click on the links below to access the full text of the most recent Matters of Substance columns:


January 2016- A Collaborative Approach Toward Addressing Substance Abuse By Michael R. Fitzgerald

An important trend that has been gaining momentum in our community is the close coordination between law enforcement, criminal justice system, treatment providers, and prevention professionals to address substance abuse and related problems. These partnerships are vital to the success in addressing the problems caused by drug addiction and alcohol abuse. By working together we can educate to increase prevention and reduce stigma, minimize redundancy, help streamline services, and improve access to the needed care.


October 2015  Decriminalization – Good Enough for Government Work By Nels Kloster 

As an addiction psychiatrist, I am concerned for the perceived urgency of legalizing marijuana in Vermont. I realize public opinion has changed about the use of marijuana and we will likely see more liberal laws.  But legalization is not the next step we should be considering.  We’re not ready yet.


August 2015- New Parenting Resource & Event Calendar Available in Windham County By Sam Maskell

If you’re a parent, caregiver, or someone who works with families who has ever wished there was a single place where you could find programs and activities, then get ready for some exciting news! The Rockingham Free Public Library, along with many other Windham County service providers, is pleased to announce the launch of the Windham County Parent Resource Calendar a single online location where you can find programs, events, classes, and more for children and families in Windham County. The main calendar can be found online at, however, it can also be found on other websites including Greater Falls Connections, Springfield Building Bright Futures, Brattleboro Area Prevention Coalition, and soon will be available on even more websites.



July 2015 Addressing My Biggest Fear By Cassandra Holloway

My biggest fear as a parent is that my son Gavin will grow up and become addicted to tobacco, alcohol or drugs or will get hurt or die as a result of taking too much alcohol or drugs. I respond to this fear but discussing the topic of substance use with my son whenever the opportunity arises.


May 2015- Smoke-Free Housing Means Even Safer Housing by Cassandra Holloway

Brattleboro Area Prevention Coalition (BAPC) strongly believes that a smoke-free zone is a safety zone for many people. This is especially true when it comes to one’s home. Through funding from VT Department of Health, BAPC has been working with private landlords and housing organizations to increase smoke-free housing options in the community. BAPC provides support to landlords and housing organizations by offering confidential tenant surveys, best practices examples, lease addendum and enforcement templates, and smoke-free signage.


April 2015-Supportive, Judgment-Free Prevention during Pregnancy by Chad Simmons

My partner and I are having our first child this summer. Amidst all the wonder and elation, come all the choices: what to eat or not to eat, what products to use or not use, childcare options, finances, balancing work…oye! The decisions before a pregnant woman are dizzying. As a partner and soon to be dad, one of the more important roles I play is holding a positive, supportive space to make these decisions. A supportive, positive pregnancy is good for momma and baby.


March 2015-Maximizing Your Role as a Teen Influencer: What You Can Do to Help Prevent Teen Prescription Drug Abuse by Cassandra Holloway

Brattleboro Area Prevention Coalition is now offering a one-hour workshop throughout Windham County to build awareness, to educate and to equip teen influencers — parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches, community and school-based healthcare providers and others — with credible information about teen prescription drug abuse and effective strategies to take action to help prevent it. It is called Maximizing Your Role as a Teen Influencer: What You Can Do to Help Prevent Teen Prescription Drug Abuse. Trained facilitators in the community are available to provide the workshop in homes, workplaces, and community spaces throughout Windham County.


February 2015 Vermont and Teen Marijuana Usage by Debby Haskins

Out of all the states in the U.S., tiny Vermont has one of the highest rates of teen marijuana use. Proponents of legalization say that shows how poorly prohibition of marijuana has worked. As in so many other areas, that view looks at a single moment’s worth of data, ignoring the complex history of marijuana use in Vermont.


January 2015Brattleboro’s Responsible Retailers by Steve Waldo

In 2011, an innovative project was undertaken in Brattleboro to achieve greater compliance with underage alcohol sales laws and regulations. The project was underwritten by the Responsible Retailing Forum (RRForum), a national non-profit organization that develops and field tests underage sales prevention models. Vermont Department of Liquor Control (DLC) was eager to work with RRForum to determine whether a greater compliance with the laws could be achieved and RRForum in turn was eager to test a new model for Responsible Retailing in Vermont.




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