March 23, 2021
Rick Birt headshot
Rick Birt, President and CEO of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), is our guest for this podcast. During the episode, Rick talks about how SADD evolved to focus on college students, provides background on his organization’s report on impaired driving among college students, the impact the pandemic has had on SADD's campus efforts, and much more.
Audio Transcript: 

Rich Lucey:  Hi, this is Rich Lucey with the Drug Enforcement Administration's Community Outreach and Prevention Support Section.  Welcome to this episode of Prevention Profiles: Take Five.
 
Our guest today is Rick Birt from Students Against Destructive Decisions.  Let me tell you a little bit about Rick before I introduced him.
 
So, Rick Birt serves as the president and chief executive officer of SADD, where he is responsible for leading the organization's programming, outreach, development and communication efforts while leading, SADD's national staff.
 
An expert in matters of health and safety among youth, Rick has authored several publications that feature SADD's unique form of a peer-to-peer approach that is vital to creating lasting behavior change in youth.  A SADD alumni himself, Rick has over a decade of prevention experience, and before joining the SADD team, he led Midwest Operations as the Midwest Education Outreach Coordinator for Impact Teen Drivers.
 
Rick has a bachelor's degree in political science and urban studies from Wittenberg University, and he is pursuing a master's degree in public administration and leadership from the Ohio State University.
 
And with that, Rick, welcome to the podcast.
 
Rick Birt:  Rich, it's such a pleasure to be with you.  Thanks for having me.
 
Rich Lucey:  Absolutely.  I'm excited about today's podcast because I think we're going to change a little bit of maybe people's perceptions about who SADD is and who they tend to focus on.
 
So let's just jump right in.  Our first question; SADD has a longstanding history, and I believe, this year it's 40 years, your major milestone.  You've got one of those ending in zero years.
 
You have a long standing history of empowering youth to get involved in education and prevention initiatives.  So what, from your perspective, do prevention professionals need to consider when they're working with students?  And the flip side of that, what should students keep top of mind, you know, when they are working with prevention professionals?
 
Rick Birt:  Yeah, absolutely. It's an exciting time for SADD as we celebrate four decades of working with youth.  You know, we were started back in 1981, originally founded as Students Against Driving Drunk, with the focus singularly on the issue of impaired driving. 
 
And even though we know that continues to be a critical issue for young people, our students came to us and said that there were so many other issues that they were facing.  And so our board, wanting to listen to the needs of our students, changed the name to Destructive Decisions back in the late 90s, actually.
 
So now we talk not only about the issues of mobility, safety in the traffic safety arena, substance abuse, mental health and leadership development, but we try to do it all through this peer-to-peer lens.
 
And so to your question about what is it that prevention specialists should know?  I think the story of SADD tells a really powerful narrative in that we need to listen to young people.  They are truly the experts in helping us combat the pressures that they face each and every day.  We need to be flexible.  If COVID-19 and the year of 2020 taught us anything, it's that that hated word of pivot.  Right?  Being able to pivot our work to meet young people where they are.  Find out how we can connect with them in a way that's authentic and that's genuine.
 
One of the things that's, you know, most discouraging to me is that, I think so often throughout history, we've kind of ragged on young people.  Right?  We criticize them for kind of being the problem.  But I continue to be amazed at the solutions, the passion, the engagement that we see and our young people coast to coast, and their desire to bring about effective change.
 
So to all of our, my prevention counterparts and prevention partners, I would say, you know, engage young people in the work that you're doing.  Find ways to meet with them in an authentic capacity.  Find ways to engage them, and you'll be amazed at how much more effective your work would be.
 
And to young people, I would say exactly the same thing.  Don't be afraid to use your voice.  We talk to, about SADD students all the time, about using their talents, their time, their passion to be channeled into something that's bigger and better than themselves.
 
And prevention work is exactly the right way to do that.  Find ways to get involved, put yourself out there.  And again, that's how we see community change at the local level.
 
Rich Lucey:  Yeah, you know, so I've been in this field, as I have said on many other occasions, at least since this January.  This is my 30th year specifically working in the, you know, the drug misuse prevention space at the state and federal government levels.
 
And you know, we've always, you know, espoused the notion that you need to have youth and young adults at the table.  And I always felt that part of the challenge of that was finding the balance between students not having the wealth of experience and education that we, as you know, the prevention practitioners have.  And so sometimes the youth get discouraged if their ideas are getting shot down and such.  And, you know, I always used to say, well, you know, the bottom line is they're really not the experts in prevention science.  And but I want to hear what they had to say. 
 
And last week I participated in a panel discussion that had everything to do with COVID and the lessons learned from that as it informs our prevention work.  And one of the panelists said something that stuck with me and I've been, I've now used it twice and I'm, you know, now about to use it in a third way; that the youth are experts, but they're experts in their community.
 
Rick Birt:  Yeah.
 
Rich Lucey:  And that's what's, that's what stuck with me, that, you know, youth, you know, they may want to gravitate toward the scare tactics, perhaps, which we know don't work as a one off, but they know what messages resonate with them. 
 
Rick Birt:  Right.
 
Rich Lucey:  We need to hear from them about the types of social media that they're watching or listening to, how messages get conveyed.  So they really do have an important role to play at the prevention table.
 
Rick Birt:  Yeah, I couldn't agree more, exactly what I just said a moment ago.  They're the experts in reaching their demographic, right?  They, they're the ones that are living these pressures every day.  They're the ones that are interacting in the social construct of being a young person today.
 
You know, I reached my mile marker birthday of 30 this year.  And so it's amazing to me.  Even though I would not call myself or anyone on this podcast old, you know, there certainly is a difference in how you talk to a 30 year old, a 20 year old, a teen.  And so I think it's important, exactly like you said, Rich, that they can use our guidance as prevention specialists, as folks who are well versed in the methodology, but understanding how to reach that young person is a perfect way to engage teens in that conversation.  And I would also say, just like you said, how do you engage the broader community?
 
You know, our nation is made up of a fabric of communities that each have their own unique blends and unique rhythm to it.  And so leveraging young people in that, I continue to be amazed at how much more receptive other members of the community, other age populations are when that messaging comes from a young person versus coming from a peer or a parent or a professional like you or I.
 
Rich Lucey:  So I'm going to move on to our second question, which actually, our next couple of questions, which will be of real interest to our listeners, particularly because we post this on our website, which is specifically geared for prevention professionals who are working to prevent drug misuse among college students.
 
Rick Birt:  Yeah.
 
Rich Lucey:  So, I think most people associate SADD, even in the intro and your description of it; we associate SADD as working with middle and high school students.  And yet SADD has evolved, I think actually several years ago, to actually include a focus on college students.  So how did that actually come about?
 
Rick Birt:  Yeah, just as I said a moment ago, I've always been very proud of the organization, that we listen to the students that we serve.  And we take our cues of what we should talk about and who we should talk about it with from those very students. 
 
And so several years ago, we started to get repeated messages from our high school students that were champions in these issues, that they would go to college, they would go to university, they would go to their two-year institutions or trade schools, and there would be this disconnect where this support system they found in SADD, this passion for talking about making positive choices, there really wasn't anything like that in the college space.
 
There's lots of great work happening in the prevention field, in the college level, don't get me wrong.  But that unique framework of peer-to-peer education in a supportive environment, it didn't exist.  So we started to do a deeper dive into this to say, hey, what's happening here?  How can, how can we be part of the solution?  SADD doesn't know the college face in and out. But maybe we can dip our toe in the water to start to figure out how we can lend our voice to the chorus of those who are working really hard to make positive change in the college space.
 
And so that's what we started to do.  Our first move was to assemble our first College Advisory Council, which brought together a half dozen students from different types of universities, different demographics, different makeups, different ages, to really have an honest discussion about the college space and the unique risk factors, the unique structure that we saw on college campuses and all the different makeups that I just described from two year to four year institutions, and figure out, okay, what's working from a student perspective?  How are we getting messages effectively out to the community, whether that's about binge drinking or whether it's about sexual or reproductive health or whether that's about, you know, parking information.  We looked at literally every message that a young person receives in those college years and then said, how can, how can we contribute to that?
 
So we started creating very slowly, at a student requested pace, of adding SADD chapters to college campuses.  And there was great success where young people, as I said a moment ago, were looking for really a space to be who they are, to ask the tough questions, to challenge what they believe, to talk about the greatest risks and pressures that they face in their daily lives and form a supportive community factor.
 
And certainly, you know, we know that, particularly in that freshman year, how important having that support mechanism is that we've seen it grow across the country, to now where we have a couple of hundred chapters in colleges across the country.
 
 
Still, like you said, Rich, our main bread and butter still is those middle schools and high school chapters, now, some elementary, because we know that younger intervention is key too.  But again, listening to our students and to how we can best meet their needs and engage them throughout their college years, and then also, hopefully, if we're doing our job right, maybe recruit a few of them to come join us in this fun and wild adventure of working in prevention.
 
Rich Lucey:  So I was writing up a follow up question to ask you, and I always run that risk because I never like to put the guest on the spot, but I think you answered it already.  I was going to check in and ask you if you knew, off the top of your head, how many chapters are currently on college campuses.  I thought I heard you say there is around 200 or so.
 
Rick Birt: 
Yeah, about 200, obviously, with varying levels of activity.  You know, we've been very proud to work with some of our armed force's universities and institutions and formed and chapters there; to look at, again, commuter schools into your institutions, trade schools.
 
So we've tried to dabble a little bit of the different makeups because we know and this audience knows just how unique each of those environments is to creating systemic change and creating cultural norms. So, yeah, about 200 and hopefully, hopefully growing.
 
Rich Lucey:  Well, I was glad to hear you say the whole evolution of, you know, starting to focus in on the college population, you know, resonates with us because even as I mentioned, campusprevention.gov is our website that is geared primarily for those professionals who are working to prevent drug use and misuse among college students.
 
But last summer, during that wonderful year of 2020, that we all experienced, you know, we had found a need to also include information for students, college students, because we knew they also were visiting the site looking for information.  And that's why we created a very small section of the website called the Student Center. 
 
And so, you know, we looked to include information on there for, specifically for college students.  And so, you know, there may be an opportunity for us to maybe include some of your higher profile or more.
 
Rick Birt:  Yeah.
 
Rich Lucey:  You know, things that are most used by or looked for by college students in that space or they have a place to go.
 
Rick Birt:  Yeah, we'd love that, sure.
 
Rich Lucey:  So keeping with the theme in talking about the college space, I'll move on to our third question.  So I got to know a little bit more.  Obviously, I've been in the field, as I said, for a while, and you know, we sort of prefer the term seasoned or experienced will do all right, not old.
 
Rick Birt:  Right.
 
Rich Lucey:  But, you know, I've known SADD for almost my entire time of being in the field.  But I got to know a bit more about SADD's work in the college arena just in the last couple of weeks.  And it really was centering around this report that you issued and so SADD, I know, recently issued a report about the status of impaired driving among college students.  So what are two or three of the key findings from that report that you would want our listeners to be aware of?
 
Rick Birt:  Yeah, and Rich, if I may, just a little background on that report.
 
Rich Lucey:  Please.
 
Rick Birt:
Two things that were very important to us is that, again, as we said, this is our 40th anniversary and we got our start talking about impaired driving.  And so to memorialize or to celebrate that birthday, I should say, we wanted to kind of take a new look at this issue.
 
You know, as it amazes me as I talk with folks across the country, I think there is this this synopsis or the sentiment that we've solved the issue of impaired driving.  And so we wanted to bring this to light in a new way, kind of going back to our roots, but with a new twist, particularly looking at this new audience of college age students that we're trying to reach.
 
So the report did several things.  First, it did an in-depth literature review to say what is current literature saying about this age population?  About substance use?  And about the art of driving?  And where are their connection points? 
 
And one of the things that we found is that, again, there's a lot of really great work happening to help college students make informed decisions about their personal health and safety.  But there seems to be this disconnect of talking about substance abuse in one category and then failing to talk about, about driving, particularly in an era where, again, I think some of that's connected to the fact that this generation does think we've solved the issue of impaired driving.
 
We live in an era that offers more options than ever if you find yourself impaired and need to be transported from A to B, whether that's with rideshares, public transportation, walking, whatever it might be.
 
But we're also seeing the data go in the wrong direction, in terms of, in terms of fatalities and serious injuries for that 18 to 24 age demographic as it relates to impaired driving. We're seeing the issue of polysubstance be on the rise, where teens are using alcohol with another substance, whether that be an illicit substance, something over the counter, something that's, you know, in the space of marijuana usage, there's lots of multiple substances that are being used simultaneously that they're putting young people at additional risk.
 
And we're also seeing, the report clearly shows that young people fail to see the risks of some of these decisions.
 
You know, there's a report we did a couple of years back that looked at the issue of drug impaired driving as it relates to marijuana.  And we found that, you know, nearly 70 percent of the teens we surveyed didn't think that marijuana usage would have an impact on their ability to drive. 
 
Rich Lucey:  Right.
 
Rick Birt:  Those students are now college students. And so we're seeing that challenge of shifting the conversation to talk about impairment is impairment, being more paramount now more than ever, especially as our culture grapples with how we talk about marijuana, as we look at COVID-19 and the restrictions that's been in place.  We've seen this only be exacerbated by that isolation and by the underlying challenges we face as a nation on mental health.  So much of this conversation goes back to mental health and the report certainly highlights that as well.
 
Rich Lucey:  Yeah, you know, I looked at the impaired driving issue, especially as it relates to college students, and you're absolutely right.  I think that for the longest time, we did see a nice downward trajectory in terms of just around alcohol use.
 
Rick Birt: Yeah.
 
Rich Lucey:  You know, as a country, we were seeing really nice declines.
 
Rick Birt: 
Yeah.
 
Rich Lucey:  And then all of a sudden, we started seeing an uptick for some reason, among a college student and it's like, where's that coming from? 
 
Rick Birt:  Yeah.
 
Rich Lucey:  And you know, that was a shame, but I think you hit the nail on the head.  There's been more opportunities for impairment over the last five to 10 years.  And that's, I think, you know, when we had to look, well for one, we have to continue to focus on alcohol, but when we also talk impairment, we have to bring in the conversation around prescription drugs and marijuana.
 
And, you know, the whole issue of marijuana, we could obviously do an entire podcast just on that whole topic.
 
Rick Birt:  Yes sir.
 
Rich Lucey:  But I suspect, I don't think it's just among young people.  I think it's among the general population we see the data that bears this out.  They think it's this benign substance.
 
Rick Birt:  Yep.
 
Rich Lucey:  That, you know, its use doesn't have consequences.
 
Rick Birt:  Yeah.
 
Rich Lucey:  Like it does with the other drugs and it absolutely does.  We're trying to hammer that home.
 
Rick Birt:  And, you know, that's not surprising to me when I zoom out and look at how we talk about it.  We talk about it as a medicinal substance.  We talk about as something that you can get from a doctor.  It's natural.
 
Rich Lucey:  Right.
 
Rick Birt:  In an era of organic and plant based nutrients, you know, it seems to fit the narrative and a lot of other substances.  And I don't think that's necessarily all by accident in this case, but it's staring us in the face as a prevention community, that we're going to, we're going to have to get really serious about how we talk about this substance, because as more states question legalization, decriminalization, all those buzzwords, we're leaving a huge chunk of the population, our young people, really in the dark about how to safely interact with a substance that's becoming more and more accessible.
 
And taking the political narrative out of it and really looking at the science, it's going to be absolutely key for us in the prevention space, to make sure that people do understand the risks and the pressures that are associated with this.  They understand the polysubstance use, which is not talked about really in any predominant or messaging campaign or, you know, really any mainstream media that I have seen.
 
So we really have to, I think, double down on what's working in that space to find ways to shift the narrative so we can, you know, get back to that trend that you were talking about, and move the numbers in the right direction.
 
Rich Lucey:  Absolutely.  Before I forget, I want to also want to let the listeners know that we've posted a copy of this report that we're referring to on campusdrugprevention.com.  If you go to the publications section, you'll find it specifically under the Non-DEA heading of the publications we've listed there. 
 
And so, Rick, I do have a follow-up question for you.  And again...
 
Rick Birt:  Yeah.
 
Rich Lucey:  I promise not to, you know, throw any tricky questions...
 
Rick Birt:  Bring it on, Rich, its fine. 
 
Rich Lucey:  But I know it's based on what's in the report.  Now, but based on what you just talked about that's in the report and since we know the practitioners are our primary audience; based on those findings, what do you think are the one or two primary messages that practitioners should focus on to be driving home to college students in terms of preventing impaired driving?
 
Rick Birt:  Yeah, I think there's several key messages that the report does a really nice job of laying out.  Number one, I think you have to go back to the basics in some ways of talking with college students about what impairment is and how and how it can be prevented.  Going back to the basics of talking about making a plan, if you're going to be impaired, to make sure that you've got a strategy to get yourself and your friends home safely. 
 
And in the report, you know, we did a focus groups across the country, and one of the things that we found is, as a theme and I know I'm digressing here, but an important thing to point out is that young people continue to see protecting the, protecting their friends as one of their main social responsibilities when they're out, when they're in social settings.
 
And so I think the more that we can frame this as a conversation about protecting not only yourself but protecting your friends and making that plan to get home, I think that all goes back to the idea of getting back to the basics on what impairment is.
 
I think we have to use science to our, to our, to be our friend.  This generation, the end of Millennials and Gen Z, we continue to see really they like the science; they like to understand the facts.  They like to be informed and they don't want to feel like they're being duped or pushed into believing something.  They want to examine those facts.  So I think the more we can use science as our friend, that's key. 
 
And I think we need to go and I know we'll talk about this here in a minute, but I think we need to really think about us as practitioners, how can we take our existing programs and maybe sprinkle in some of these other messages, too? 
 
So I know many of our listeners might be doing a fantastic job in curbing binge drinking or substance use on college campuses.  Don't forget to sprinkle in that traffic safety message as well and add in the next layer of, okay, if you're, if you, if we're educating teens on what use looks like, we need to make sure they understand the risks and pressures of how to handle the next step of that, which we know is transportation or as we're calling, mobility safety and getting back out of the dangerous situation and getting home all in one piece.
 
Rich Lucey:  That's just really, really good advice for our practitioners that are listening as they, you know, as we start to get back to whatever the, and I always hesitate to use the word, the phrase, new normal.
 
Rick Birt:  Right.
 
Rich Lucey:  But as we start to get back to a situation where the majority of our campuses are back to being in person and such, but this is a really good segue to our fourth question, and it will focus on COVID.
 
So, you know, 2020, the buzz words from 2020 are pivot, flexible and virtual.
 
Rick Birt:  Yeah.
 
Rich Lucey:  And so, what impact and I say, you know, does because we're still within the pandemic. 
 
Rick Birt:  We are.
 
Rich Lucey:  I think too many people look at 2020 is once 2020 was over, so was the pandemic.  Read the news. 
 
Rick Birt:  Yeah.
 
Rich Lucey:  It's, you know, we're still in the midst of it.  What impact has, you know, the COVID-19 pandemic had on SADD's local efforts on college campuses?
 
Rick Birt:  Yeah, I'm going to give you the good, the bad and the ugly.  Right.  I think that's the best way to frame this. 
 
So the bad and the ugly is, is that I think it's really, it's really challenged some of our practices in where and how teens consume substances.  Right.  You know, you look at most college campuses, there's the neighborhood bar.  There's some of those traditional spots.  And with our campuses being closed and with people being more, whether that they're home with parents or other caring adults or wherever they might be, how teens are consuming has changed.
 
And I think as practitioners, we have to recognize that, that talking about messaging, about going out to the bar or being in the college frat house basement; some of those traditional scenarios that we've talked about, those aren't happening.  And I don't think that they're going to return to life as normal, as you said, Rich, just like that.
 
So I think, again, this is a great moment to engage your young people in a sense, and saying, hey, what are you seeing?  What are you hearing in how people are consuming substances?  Because, again, the messaging of how they're doing and where they're doing it is key to help change the environmental factors that can help them make better choices.
 
So I think that's the bad is that, again, we're more alone and that we're more isolated.  And a lot of this is happening, and this is true for high school audiences, too, we're seeing upticks in consumption across the board, on the drug side, on the alcohol side, on tobacco.  All of the substances are being used more certainly because of coping mechanisms, the pressures, the unknown, all of those factors.
 
So our chapters are trying to respond to that in real time to not only address how students are using the substance and where, but also the frequency in which they're using it. 
 
I would say the good side of this, here's the good news, is that I think it's allowed us to shift the conversation back to where I think it really needs to be and that's talking about mental health and understanding that so much of substance use goes back to mental health and removing the stigma on mental wellness and talking about anxiety, depression, developing coping skills, developing a sense of resiliency in our young adults.
 
All of those are critical things that I think we, as an education community, because SADD certainly works in that education space, really have to think about how we can use this weird blip in our history to really double down on building some of those skills in our young people.  I think that's key.
 
And that's one way that SADD chapters have started, is by picking up right there, looking at how we can give people the tools, the resources, the skills to address those issues of mental health in a really meaningful, healthy way.
 
So looking at, you know, getting the help that they need from their medical professional, getting into some counseling, learning how, when they feel stress, to deal with that stress appropriately so it doesn't manifest in some of those other areas.  That's really been a critical focus of our SADD chapters. 
 
And yes, we've used all of those cursed words that you just said, Rich, and we've pivoted to eating online.  We've connected most of our programming virtually.  We've been really successful in reaching young people where they are on social media channels, having tens of thousands of students participate in our SADD chats where we talk about some of these issues, particularly with a lens on that 18 to 24 age audience.
 
And then also, you know, helping students grapple with the other pressures that they're facing too.  Most of our, many of our college students have lost their part time jobs because of the economy.  So grappling with the economic fallout of this has been a challenge.  The social isolation that comes with it, understanding that, you know, these decisions aren't being made in a vacuum.  They're being made in the context of a real life breathing person who's facing real pressures, has been absolutely key and our SADD chapters on campuses have done a really nice job of embracing that.
 
Rich Lucey:  That's fantastic.  A follow up question I had for you is if you are aware of any unique virtual prevention strategies that the local chapters used and I just heard you mention the SADD chats.
 
Rick Birt:  Yeah.
 
Rich Lucey: 
And that was one of them.  Could you talk a little bit more about those?
 
Rick Birt:  Yeah.  So it's very simple.  It's, you know, many of our chapters have local Facebook pages or Instagram pages, TikTok's.  They use their social media platforms to get a couple of their student leaders on with leaders of their university, whether that be someone from the School of Public Health, whether it be someone from the Student Health Center, to talk about issues that teens are facing.  And there's a way to submit questions through social media.  All of those are recorded in archived.  And there's been, you know, there's been great success in helping students kind of allow this space to be a place of conversation, but also be a place of idea sharing and to be a place of sharing of and developing of skills.
 
So, again, okay, what are some breathing exercises you can do when you feel that, your chest tightening?  You've got the paper due, you know, you're not sure if your grandma has COVID.  You're not sure what, if there's going to be class tomorrow.  All of those things are swirling together.
 
Okay, let's go through some breathing exercises.  We help our students develop routines, which I know sounds pretty mundane, but I think we've all felt that a little bit.  Right.
 
Rich Lucey:  Right.
 
Rick Birt:  We don't have the rigidness of our daily schedule.  And we, as human beings, thrive in that.  So helping our college students get back to a place of routine and having some degree of a normal schedule has been a great exercise, too.  Because when you've got that more normal regimen of going to exercise, eating meals at this time, showering, you start to feel a little bit better about yourself.  And when those things improve, mental health improves, when mental health improves, we know that substance use goes down.
 
Rich Lucey:  Well, it's great to know that, you know, the events of the last 12 months or so has actually sparked creativity in people.
 
Rick Birt:  Yeah.
 
Rich Lucey:  You know, because we have had to, all kidding aside, we have had to pivot, we have had to be flexible, mainly because all of us were isolated.
 
Rick Birt:  Yeah.
 
Rich Lucey:   In, you know, on the priority reason for public health reasons.  But, you know, our work had to continue.  Our missions had to continue.
 
We just had to figure out a way to continue doing that work.
 
Rick Birt:  Right.
 
Rich Lucey:  You know, in a different space. 
 
Rick Birt:  Yeah.  Yeah. 
 
Rich Lucey:  So it's good to know that the students could do that as well.
 
Rick Birt:  Yeah.  One thing that I think is important to note, Rich, is something you just said.  You know, I was talking to one of, one of our university partners who's in the School of Counseling, and she said it really well.
 
She said, you know, I think people need to remind themselves that they're not just working from home.  They're trying to do work in their home in the midst of a global pandemic.  And I know that seems like a subtle difference, but I do think it helps frame just the amounts, the amount of pressure and change that particularly our college students have seen over the course of the last year.  And how important it is that we help them understand that there is a season to this, that there will be light at the end of the tunnel and that life will go back to normal.
 
Sure, there will be, I think there will be, you know, long lasting imprints of COVID on our culture for generations to come.  But there is hope and I think helping students understand that as well is an important thing that we can do as practitioners.
 
Rich Lucey:  Very, very much so.  So as we wind up and I come to our final question, it's the one that I tend to ask all of the guests. 
 
And so it's more or less the call to action.  What is it you want to say to encourage the professionals who are working to prevent drug use and misuse among college students, as well as the students themselves?  We know they listen to the podcast.  What do you want to say to them who are listening?
 
Rick Birt:  First of all, thank you.  You know, I know no one got into this business to become rich or famous.  If anyone did, please let me know how you did it.
 
[Laughter]
 
But first of all, thank you.
 
Rich Lucey:  But you might be famous but [inaudible].
 
Rick Birt:  I say that Tongue-In-Cheek, but I really do appreciate the work that so many of our listeners are doing to help make a difference in their communities.  In prevention, it's the planting of seeds that we never know how they will bloom.  Right.  It's hard to measure something that didn't happen.  And if we do our jobs right, things won't happen.
 
So I understand the juxtaposition, if you will, of measuring our work is challenging.  I know it's challenging in the best of circumstances.  So I appreciate everyone who's continued onward. 
 
I'd be remised if I, you know, didn't encourage folks to reach out to the peer-to-peer groups on their campuses and in their communities, whether that’s a SADD chapter or not.  You know, they're, it's so important that young people are at the table when these discussions are happening.  And I can't say that enough, Rich.
 
So a shameless plug for SADD, you know, if there are those who are interested in starting a college chapter, it's free.  It takes two minutes and 18 seconds.  Yes, I did time it.  You can just go to our website and register.  You get access to resources, materials, contest, scholarships, all sorts of things that can all be found at www.sadd.org.
 
I'd also encourage folks to follow us on social media, @SaddNation.  We have specific content just for our college chapters and for all of our advocates who are working every day, and our adult allies, who are working every day to help young people stay safe.  There's resources and meaningful content for you.  So please tune in that way.
 
The last thing I would say is this; just keep the faith.  Again, I know it's, I know it's a tough time.  I know that, as we've discussed, Rich, we're seeing some of those numbers maybe not move in the direction we wish they were.  But there's good things coming.  There is light at the end of this tunnel and that it's going to be more important than ever that as we go back to, air quotes, normal, that we as the prevention community are there to help guide our communities back to this new normal and help them face challenges that we've been talking about for decades and also greet the new challenges that we'll face post COVID.  So keep the faith, friends, we will, we will get through this together.
 
Rich Lucey:  Those are, those are excellent takeaways, and I'm glad you mentioned the website.  I, very quickly, ask you; does the website have a chapter locator on it?  So if somebody wanted to find out, you know, if there is an existing chapter in their area, is there a way to find that out?
 
Rick Birt:  Yeah.  So there is not one on our website, but you can contact our field team.  If you go to our website, you'll see a map of the country. 
 
Rich Lucey:  Okay.
 
Rick Birt:  Click on your state and there will be a contact information for one of our state coordinators or field team members there.  You can get in touch with them and they can make that connection.
 
Rich Lucey:  Excellent.  That's really great.  Well, Rick, I'm so glad that we had a chance to connect and we had a chance to have you come on the podcast.  This is important information on a variety of fronts. 
 
Again, it's not just middle and high school students that impair driving effects.  We're now talking the college population. We've talked about, you know, people's perception of the harm of all these different substances. 
 
Rick Birt:  Exactly.
 
Rich Lucey:   We've talked about the pandemic and how it's affecting all of this.  So a wide ranging interview.  I really do appreciate it.  And I know from DEA's perspective, we have some opportunities, meetings between our two organizations and we're going to look for ways that we can continue this collaboration.
 
Rick Birt:  Absolutely, Rich.  Really appreciate you and the team having me on.  Always a pleasure.  Appreciate your time.
 
Rich Lucey:  Absolutely, and to our listeners, we really appreciate you tuning in to not only this episode, but all of the past episodes over the last three plus years on campusdrugprevention.gov.  With that, I'm going to say thanks and have a great day.
 
 

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