Porcia Baxter is working to expand substance-use prevention efforts targeting junior high and high school students as prevention education manager at Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge, the Minneapolis-based nonprofit treatment and recovery program.
Baxter, in what is a new role, oversees the organization’s Know the Truth program, among other responsibilities. Know the Truth reaches 60,000 students a year in more than 150 schools, taking an evidence-based approach to prevention in a peer-to-peer format, Baxter said.
Last year, nearly 90 percent of students said they would not use illegal substances and 75 percent said they would not use alcohol before age 21 after Know the Truth presentations, she said. Nationally, most of those who struggle with addiction begin using substances before 18, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Baxter said she would like to expand the program’s reach to students who aren’t struggling with addiction or its effects on others around them. Offering healthy ways to deal with issues without turning to drugs or alcohol may help prevent those students avoid falling prey to addiction.
Another goal, Baxter said, is reassessing the program’s curriculum. She also said she wants to focus on leadership training and development of presenters, who typically visit health classes to share their addiction stories. Baxter was a Know the Truth lead presenter in 2014 after graduating from Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge in 2009. She said she contacted the nonprofit about joining the staff after taking time to get married and start a family.
Q: What motivated you to want to work at Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge?
A: I’ve stayed connected with the program and several individuals here. My life would not be what it is if I hadn’t gotten through this program. I don’t know if I’d be alive if it wasn’t for Teen Challenge. To give back to a program that has given me my life back is huge.
Q: How would you describe your experience as a presenter?
A: There will be students that will open up because you’re out there being so vulnerable. They feel like they can share what they’re going through. If your story could save one person from going through what you had to go through … that would make it more than worth it.
Q: Why does the curriculum need reassessment?
A: We’re always looking for ways to be culturally relevant as well as be creative and innovative. We want to make sure that we’re current on what the drug trends are, the terminology of how students are describing drugs and alcohol and what types of substances they’re using.