Illicit drugs and inappropriate alcohol use are national public health problems that are expressed differently in every community. Therefore, solutions to more effective prevention and treatment must occur through community-based strategies and action. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation was looking for a way to attack drug and alcohol problems in communities. There were hundreds of community organizations eager to address the issue, but they were often run by volunteers who had few strategic planning skills, no access to current research, and very limited funds. They were often operating in isolation from similar groups and working in a policy environment that was hostile to effective prevention and treatment. Furthermore, the idea that alcohol and drug dependence was a disease ...

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