As times change and concerns about drug use grow, the Trumbull Partnership Against Underage Drinking (TPAUD) is expanding its outreach, with help from a $625,000 federal grant. TPAUD, formed in 2006, is a partnership that includes parents, school staff, community members, and groups like the police and EMS, religious organizations, youth organizations, and many more. Melissa McGarry, coordinator for TPAUD, said the group applied for the grant from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy back in March and learned it had received it in September. \u201cThis takes us to a whole new level,\u201d McGarry said. \u201cWe\u2019ve never had a federal grant before. Only a few districts in the state received this grant, and we did it on our first try.\u201d It\u2019s a five-year grant, with TPAUD receiving $125,000 each year. The grant will help the group better coordinate its efforts within the community. \u201cIt\u2019s an opportunity for us to put strategies in place to reduce youth substance abuse,\u201d McGarry said. \u201cWe are going to do what we\u2019ve been doing the last eight years, around alcohol, but expand our efforts to include marijuana and prescription drug use.\u201d Part of what TPAUD does is collect data. \u201cSince we started in 2006 we\u2019ve seen the percentage of kids that report using alcohol in the last 30 days go from 49% to 36%,\u201d McGarry said. \u201cEven the number of students who say they have tried alcohol has dropped. We have started to move the needle \u2014\u00a0we are seeing changes in attitude, that take time.\u201d Some of the programs TPAUD runs in town include a freshmen forum, with 90% attendance, where students and parents are given all the information on the potential impacts of underage drinking. The group also works with middle school students and parents. TPAUD has an anonymous tip line, that goes to police, allowing people to report underage drinking parties. Those with information may text \u201cTRPD\u201d to \u201cCRIMES (274637)\u201d with the address of the party. TPAUD also works with local businesses to make sure they don\u2019t sell or serve underage kids. Drugs TPAUD has started to address concerns about drug use in the community, particularly prescription drugs and marijuana. Last February, it unveiled a prescription drug drop box at the Trumbull Police Department. The box allows people to safely dispose of unused prescriptions, before they get into the wrong hands. \u201cWe have to be ready to face the changing trends,\u201d McGarry said. \u201cEight years ago we weren\u2019t talking about kids abusing ADHD drugs or electronic cigarettes.\u201d McGarry said marijuana use is also growing, and part of that is a cultural shift \u2014 as teens see the drug legalized, they have misconceptions about its safety. The grant will help the group work more with upperclassman in the high school, providing more programs and speakers at the school. \u201cOne of the greatest assets we have is that we are based in Trumbull High School. We have fantastic kids and parents to work with and the principal is so supportive.\u201d Part of the process in addressing drug use is educating TPAUD members. \u201cWe are getting ourselves as familiar with drug issues as we are with alcohol,\u201d McGarry said. \u201cWe have to keep engaging the public \u2014\u00a0that is a big piece of this.\u201d For more on TPAUD, visit Trumbullps.org\/TPAUD.html.