Tobacco Cessation

School-Based: 10 public school districts throughout
Luzerne and Wyoming Counties receive:

  • classroom education programs
  • one-on-one interventions with student smokers
  • Cessation Services available to students and staff
  • Alternative To Suspension programs
  • Power of Ten Group
  • services to teachers/parents

Community (Focus on Second-Hand Smoke):

  • health fairs (various locations)
  • college displays/fairs
  • senior citizen center programs
  • presentations to civic, church, and service organizations
  • presentations on Advantages of Smoke-Free Workplaces to business/industry


  • individual cessation intervention
  • Tobacco Cessation clinics both in workplaces and at community sites such as YMCA, health clubs, social service agencies, etc.

Disparate Populations:

  • work with agencies/organizations in the community serving at-risk underserved populations
  • cessation/education services at area housing projects

Perinatal Program

[tab: Prevention Information]

What Does Perinatal Mean?

Perinatal means the period around childbirth, especially the five months before and one month after the birth; starting at the 20th to 28th week of pregnancy and ending 1-4 weeks after birth.

Our perinatal program, however, is designed to include valuable prevention/education information prior to, during, and after childbirth. We strongly believe that sound, accurate information will go a long way in insuring for healthier Moms and babies.

How Did This Perinatal Program Come About?

Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services, Inc. was awarded a grant from the Blue Ribbon Foundation of Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania to provide perinatal prevention and education services to improve the health and wellness of unborn children by educating and guiding pregnant women and women of child bearing age concerning alcohol, drug, and tobacco use, abuse, and addiction.

What Are The Goals of the Program?

There are two primary goals of the perinatal program;

Goal #1 – To educate and provide guidance to pregnant women and women of child bearing age on health and wellness consequences to themselves and unborn children concerning the
use, abuse, and addiction of alcohol, drugs (illicit, pharmaceutical, and over-the-counter), and tobacco.

Goal #2 – In collaboration with local community and countywide agencies, we will provide healthcare practitioners (physicians, EMT’s, nurses, first responders, etc) and the community at
large with prevention and treatment information on alcohol, drug, and/or tobacco use, abuse, and addiction relative to pregnant women and women of child-bearing age.

Why Is This Perinatal Program Needed?

Women face many difficult decisions in life, none more important than the care of their unborn baby while they are developing in the womb. Even before a planned or unplanned pregnancy,
women must clearly understand that unhealthy decisions made prior to their baby’s birth could lead to potential negative consequences for the future arrival of their baby. A clear example of
this is that women who smoke or use tobacco products, drugs and/or alcohol prior to a pregnancy may have difficulty discontinuing their use once they find out they are pregnant. Additionally, when one examines the facts regarding perinatal drug and alcohol use, abuse, and addiction, it further demonstrates why this program is so important.


  • 13-22% of women and girls in the United States smoke while pregnant
  • Women who smoke increase their risk for infertility, ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside of the uterus), spontaneous abortion, and stillbirth
  • Tobacco use is responsible for approximately 22-41% of deaths from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) annually
  • Each year, as many as 40,000 babies are born in the United States with a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD); Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE), Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND), and Alcohol-Related Birth Defects (ARBD)
  • 44% of women who drink heavily during pregnancy will have a child with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
  • There is no safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy; WHAT THE MOM DRINKS, THE BABY DRINKS
  • In Pennsylvania, 19.1% of women of childbearing age reported binge drinking in the past month, compared to 13.1% overall in the United States
  • The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence national survey indicates that marijuana was used during pregnancy by 3% of women (119,000), cocaine by 1.1% (45,000), and a psychotherapeutic medication without physician orders by 1.5% (61,000 women). Crack was the form of cocaine use most frequently reported.
  • According to the Office of Health and Human Services, upwards of 75% of all perinatally-acquired HIV infections are secondary to intravenous drug use by an infected mother or her sexual partner.

What Are The Planned Initiatives For The Perinatal Program; Reaching The Targeted Populations

Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services, Inc. will utilize its strong position as a recognized leader of prevention/education programs and will collaborate with community partners (social
service, health care, medical, school, women’s organizations) in insuring for efficient, effective, innovative, and highly-informative programs.

        1. Informational Brochures delineating effects of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs (illicit, pharmaceutical, and over-the-counter) on women and fetal development.
        2. School-Based Curriculum featuring educational and instructional tools addressing effects and consequences of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs on women and fetal development.
        3. Development of a Screening Tool for moms-to-be; distributed to women of child bearing age, moms-to-be, caregivers, health professionals, grant partners…checklist designed to
          identify current or potential risks, hazards, consequences to women and fetal development.
        4. Informational Brochures and Announcements In Physicians Offices regarding the availability of perinatal services through Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services, Inc. Additionally, announcements reminding women to speak to their physicians about pregnancy and alcohol, tobacco, pharmaceutical, over-the-counter, and other drugs of abuse. Finally, notices placed in physicians offices will encourage women who are using alcohol and drugs to seek help through WVADS, Inc. by calling 820-8888. This important linkage will hopefully result in reducing and eliminating potential consequences to mother and baby as the result of alcohol, tobacco, and/or other drugs.
        5. Development of a Screening Tool to be utilized by medical facilities, health care sites, human and social service agencies, clinical settings, etc. to assist women in identifying potential risks or consequences to themselves and their unborn child relative to alcohol, tobacco, or other drug use while pregnant.
        6. Workshops and Seminars will be conducted for physicians, physician assistants, nurses, nurse assistants, social workers, counselors, psychologists, caseworkers, support staff and others involved in the care of women and their unborn child.
        7. Informational Messages For Community consisting of billboards, print and electronic educational messages, health fairs, brochures describing impact of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs of abuse on women and fetal development.
        8. Youth Related Perinatal Projects such as challenging young people to participate in essay and poster contests with perinatal addiction themes, requesting that young people present graduation projects on issues about or relating to perinatal addiction.

In addition to these planned initiatives, we will develop additional ones as we progress through the grant cycle.

Where Can I Go For Help If I Have A Problem With Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs?

Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services, Inc. provides confidential, professional assessment/evaluation and counseling services in a comfortable office setting at 437 North Main Street, Wilkes-Barre…820-8888. Our trained and highly-skilled counselors will meet with you to discuss treatment options and recommendations designed for you and your baby’s health. REMEMBER…early detection is important and will go a long way in reducing and eliminating health consequences for you and your baby.

Why Should I Talk To My Physician?

Not every medication poses a risk to your unborn baby. However, some do. That’s why it is important that you are completely honest in discussing your intake or planned intake of alcohol,
tobacco, over-the-counter drugs, and other drugs of abuse with your physician. Alcohol in any amount can be harmful, as well as the use of any tobacco product while pregnant. Also,
we know that illicit drugs (illegal drugs) of any type are very harmful to mothers and unborn children. Additionally, if you are taking any of the following types or categories of drugs or
medications, you are encouraged to discuss any potential consequences on you and your unborn child.

          • Antibiotics
          • Cholesterol
          • Cancer
          • Muscle Relaxants
          • Cardiovascular/Hypertension
          • Analgesics (pain relief)
          • Anti-Convulsants
          • Anti-Depressants
          • Anti-Inflammatory
          • Stimulants/Appetite Suppressants
          • Anti-Coagulants (blood thinners)
          • Diuretics
          • Anti-Secretory Drugs
          • Hormones
          • Anti-Diabetic
          • Anti-Progesterone
          • Estrogen
          • Asthma/Bronchodilators
          • Acne Medications
          • Urinary Tract Anti-Spasmodics

Remember, your physician should be consulted continually throughout your pregnancy since this partnership is working for the same goal; a healthy Mom and Baby.

Are All The Agency Services Confidential?

Yes. Your confidentiality and well-being is our #1 concern. There are many state and federal confidentiality laws which protect you and assure for your privacy. Additionally, our agency has
a highly trained, dedicated, and professional staff that emphasizes confidentiality, patient dignity, and ethics.

[tab: Resource Websites]

Prevention/Education Websites

On Drug/Alcohol Effects on Women and Fetal Development

  1. Motherisk
  2. National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
  3. March of Dimes 
  4. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Family Resource Institute
  5. FAS Center For Excellence – Center For Substance Abuse Prevention
  6. University of Washington School of Medicine Fetal Alcohol and Drug Unit
  7. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
  8. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
  9. American Legacy
  10. American Lung Association
  11. BabyZone
  12. American Council For Drug Education
  13. National Institute of Health
  14. National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD)
  15. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention
  16. National Clearinghouse For Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI)
  17. The Merck Manuals Online Medical Library
  18. The Partnership For A Drug Free America
  19. FDA Ratings For Prescription Drug Use During Pregnancy; Active Ingredients In Common Over-The-Counter Products
  20. Kids Health For Parents 
  21. Westside Pregnancy Resource Center
  22. Minnesota Dept. of Health Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorders and Prevention
  23. WorldProfit.Com – Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Effects
  24. Creative Consultants, Inc.
  25. Alcohol Policies Project – Center For Science In The Public Interest
  26. State of Alaska Office of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
  27. The FAS Family Resource Institute
  28. SAMHSA Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Perinatal Program of Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services, Inc. funded by a special grant from the Blue Ribbon Foundation of Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

[tab: Risk Assessment Questionnaire]

Risk Assessment Questionnaire For Mothers-To-Be

Answer our Risk Assessment Questionnaire For Mothers-To-Be Today

Community Presentations

[tab: Drug]

WVADS Presentation
ISM’s (Root Cause/s That Fuel Use/Abuse/Misuse)

This presentation covers ism’s (root causes that fuel use, abuse, and misuse); systemic reasons that influence and contribute to addictive cycle

WVADS Presentation
Bath Salts and Synthetic Marijuana

This presentation covers bath salts and synthetic marijuana; how used, what they look like, and consequences

WVADS Presentation
How to Utilize a School Based Drug Curriculum Framework

Dr. Vito Forlenza, agency consultant, developed a first of its kind work; discussion of components of framework and recommendations on how to integrate lessons and messages into schools.

WVADS Presentation
Nicotine Use, Dependence and Cessation

WVADS, Inc. is a frontrunner in nicotine awareness, prevention/education, and treatment. Presentation discusses reasons for use, treatment options available, physiological and behavioral consequences of use

WVADS Presentation
Drugs of Abuse

Participants learn about the many drugs and chemicals being abused; over the counter, prescription meds, street drugs; how used, physical and behavioral consequences

[tab: Alcohol]

WVADS Presentation
Binge Drinking

This presentation covers medical consequences, legal consequences, date rape, violence, and unsafe practices associated with binge drinking

WVADS Presentation
Hallmark Signs of Alcoholism

This presentation covers Jekyll-Hyde changes in behavior, alcohol blackouts, changes in tolerance and loss of control

WVADS Presentation
Blood Alcohol

This presentation covers Blood Alcohol Levels (BAL), Blood Alcohol Concentrations (BAC) and its implication on brain function(s) .

WVADS Presentation
Alcohol Use and Abuse as a Precursor to Co-Occurring Problems

This presentation covers Alcohol use and abuse as a precursor to co-occurring problems such as depression and suicide

WVADS Presentation
Use of Recovering Alcoholics/Addicts

WVADS, Inc. facilitates many presentations and programs which feature individuals who share their personal stories of addiction and recovery

WVADS Presentation
The Real Story of DUI

This presentation covers Frank and Sharon Yanulevius sharing story of daughter’s untimely death by drunk driver; Power Point on life of Sharon Yanulevius who was tragically killed by a drunk driver on August 12, 1995. Friends of Sharon pamphlet and booklet used as handouts

WVADS Presentation
Underage Drinking In American Culture; What Do We Do About It?

This workshop provides state of the problem….just how serious it is; reasons that contribute and fuel the problem; role of family, community, media, music, movie, video, etc. on problem; recommendations to reduce problem

[tab: Effects]

WVADS Presentation
Treatment Options and Fellowship Options

This presentation covers treatment options and fellowship options; discussion regarding types of treatment (levels of care); how WVADS determines appropriate treatment recommendations; the role of the fellowships of AA, NA, etc. in enhancing recovery

WVADS Presentation
Academic and Legal Implications and Consequences

This presentation covers academic and legal implications and consequences specific to high school, college and university populations; explores impact of drug/alcohol use on learning, cognition, concentration, attention, as well as legal consequences of use.

WVADS Presentation
Pre and Post-Testing of Drug/Alcohol Knowledge

This presentation covers pre and post testing utilizing comprehensive and challenging pre and post testing concept, participated is provided with in-depth knowledge of drugs, alcohol, and their human and societal impact

WVADS Presentation
Stages of Alcohol and Drug Use

This presentation covers use, abuse, misuse, dependency and addiction; progression of addiction through disease stages; physiological, behavioral consequences.

WVADS Presentation
Etiology of Addiction

This presentation covers the underlying physiological, psychological, sociological, and cultural origins or causes

WVADS Presentation
Choice and Decision Making

This presentation covers peer influence, social influence, media influence, beverage industry influence and entertainment industry influence

WVADS Presentation
Risk Vs. Protective Factors

This presentation covers Catalano and Hawkins, noted researchers, work on Risk and Protective Factors and the role they play in youth’s decision to experiment with or use drugs/alcohol

WVADS Presentation
Understanding Assessment/Evaluation Tools

This presentation covers understanding assessment and evaluation tools; Pennsylvania Client Placement Criteria; Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test; Drug and Alcohol Screening….includes South Oaks Gambling Screening Tool

WVADS Presentation
Addiction As A Family Disease

This presentation covers the impact of addiction on the family; stages of family progression; consequences of failure to receive treatment; treatment and fellowship options for famil

WVADS Presentation
The Role of Trauma in Addiction and Recovery

This presentation covers the role of trauma in addiction and recovery; stressors, hardships, tragedies, human pains and how they contribute to use and abuse of drugs/alcohol

WVADS Presentation
Role of Relapse Prevention In Recovery

This presentation covers the role of relapse prevention in recovery; strategies, recommendations, suggestions for enhancing recovery and preventing relapse

WVADS Presentation
Ethics and Addiction

This presentation covers laws, regulations, ethical codes, protocols and procedures of ethics that govern addiction field.

WVADS Presentation
Drugs, Brains and Behavior; The Science of Addiction

This presentation covers the impact of drug use on brain and its regions; consequences resulting from this use; cognitive function, intellectual impact, etc.

WVADS Presentation
Search and Seizure Do’s and Don’ts

This presentation covers specific driven workshops addressing search and seizure laws, regulations, case precedent court rulings, boundaries; what you can and cannot do

WVADS Presentation
Methods of Drug Testing

In this presentation participants learn about various options of drug testing, including drug testing school and industrial policies, cleansing agents on market, etc.

WVADS Presentation
Omnibus Transportation Policy Compliance for Industry

Specific presentation for industry that assists safety sensitive industries (as determined by federal government) to become compliant with strict standards of Omnibus Transportation Policy

WVADS Presentation
Industrial Drug and Alcohol Policies and Procedures

This presentation is a how-to workshop designed to provide industry with state of the art policies, procedures, protocols for dealing with impaired employees; sample policies discussed.

WVADS Presentation
Women’s Issues in Addiction and Recovery

This presentation covers specific issues that women face who suffer from addiction; what barriers do women face and recommendations to improve access to treatment

WVADS Presentation
Prescription Drug Abuse- America’s Emerging Epidemic

This presentation will examine the fastest growing type of drug abuse; examines reasons for use, factors that contribute to continued use; explanation of WVADS, Inc. novel “Prescription Drug Treatment Program” (Informational booklet utilized in training)

WVADS Presentation
Drug Definitions

This presentation covers half-life of drugs, synergy, drug automatism, gynecomastia, A-Motivational Syndrome, Jonesing, etc.; why addicts need to know these terms.

[tab: Other]

WVADS Presentation
Understanding the Components of a School Based Drug and Alcohol Policy

The presentation covers what constitutes Reasonable Suspicion; Search and Seizure; Supreme Court Decisions; Process/Protocols For Dealing With Drug/Alcohol Violations

WVADS Presentation
Listing of Valuable Informational Websites

This presentation covers a listing of valuable informational websites

WVADS Presentation
The Potential Impact of Continued Poor Choice and Poor Decision-Making

This presentation covers prevention tips and Recommendations for wellness. There is also an in-session written exercise designed to foster reflection and understanding of the potential impact of continued poor choice and poor decision making.

WVADS Presentation
Suicide and Addiction

This presentation covers suicide and addiction; suicide is 3rd leading cause of death in U.S. among 16-25 year olds; role of drugs/alcohol in suicide is discussed; risk and protective factors are presented.

WVADS Presentation
Treatment Needs of Substance Abusing Traumatized Military Members

This presentation covers substance abuse in the emotional and physical disabled patient; unique treatment issues are presented; barriers affecting these patients and specific recommendations to improve treatment outcomes in this population (Informational booklet utilized in training)

WVADS Presentation
Substance Abuse in the Emotional and Physical Disabled Patients

This presentation covers substance abuse in the emotional and physical disabled patients

WVADS Presentation
Weapons Deterrent Program For Youth

This presentation covers methods of non-violent conflict resolution; recommendations on handling stressful incidents with non-violent techniques and strategies (Informational booklet utilized in training)

WVADS Presentation
Gangs and Drugs

This presentation covers why people are enamored by gangs; what are gangs; role of drug and alcohol use in youth involvement with gangs (Informational booklet utilized in training)

Military Veterans

Specialty Treatment Program For Military Veterans, Military Members, and Their Families

WVADS, Inc. is pleased to announce that it has developed expertise in the treatment of military veterans, members, and their families. This unique offering utilizes trained agency clinicians who are familiar with the specific presenting problems of this population. These are America’s heroes, who, during their military service and duty, have, often times, been traumatized, severely wounded, and emotionally scarred from the impact of war and military conflicts. Often times, because of these unpleasant experiences, the military veteran may develop problems with drugs and alcohol. Our agency is trained, poised, and remains ready to offer a helping hand. The unique features of this specialty program include:

  • Enhanced access to treatment
  • Specialized intake/assessment process focusing on trauma and PTSD questionnaire
  • Specialized therapy for co-occurring disorders such as depression and substance abuse
  • Inclusion of family throughout treatment process
  • Education/information on enhancing resiliency skills, conflict resolution and coping strategies
  • Assessment of Traumatic Stress Factors


Developmental Disabilities

Specialty Program For Physically and Developmentally Disabled Patients

WVADS, Inc. has partnered with the Northeastern Pennsylvania Center For Independent Living (NEPACIL) to create a specialty treatment and prevention/education component. The clinical staff and prevention/education team of WVADS, Inc. have undergone extensive training and orientation to develop specific competencies in addressing the special needs of physically and developmentally disabled patients who access care at WVADS, Inc. Data from the United States Department of Health and Human Services demonstrates substance use disorders occur more often in persons with disabilities than in the general population. This includes problems with alcoholism, prescription drugs, and illicit drugs.

  • Persons with any type of disability experience substance abuse at rates 2 to 4 times greater than the general population
  • Substance abuse prevalence rates approach or exceed 50% for persons with traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, or mental illness
  • Substance abuse is a contributing factor or cause of up to 65% of disabling injuries in the United States

This program is unique in many ways, inclusive of the specific areas that will be addressed with the patient and family.

  • Impulsivity
  • Social Isolation
  • Self-Esteem Issues
  • Anger and Resentments
  • Feelings of Hopelessness and Despair
  • Panic
  • Fears
  • Goal Setting
  • Problem Solving Techniques
  • Building Resiliency Skills
  • Volunteerism
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Depression and Stress
  • Strengthening Coping Skills
  • Obstacles To Recovery
  • Relapse Prevention Strategies
  • Empowerment
  • Solution Oriented Thinking
  • Attaining Recovery vs. Maintaining Recovery


Dennis Bonvie Drug Free Fan Club

Affiliation and Partnership with Dennis Bonvie, Former National Hockey League and American Hockey League Icon

We are pleased to announce the addition of Dennis Bonvie, former American Hockey League icon and National Hockey League player, to our prevention/education team. Dennis will visit schools and community events and will present drug and alcohol messages to children and youth.

Additionally, “Bonvie’s Brigade”, a drug and alcohol free fan club, has been initiated and will challenge youth to make a pledge to be drug and alcohol free. The signed card will entitle them to rewards throughout the community.


Weapons Deterrent Programs for Youth

At the request of Luzerne County Juvenile Judge, Tina Polachek Gartley, the agency is developing a weapons deterrence program to work with juveniles that are court ordered to undergo a 4-6 hour program. These youngsters that will be referred have already violated weapons laws and/or have a fixation or are enamored with gun possession and use. The agency is working with the Luzerne County District Attorney, area weapons experts, Pennsylvania State Police, Wilkes-Barre Police, Luzerne County Sheriff’s Department, etc. to craft a program that will provide these young people with an intensive educational experience designed to reduce or eliminate their fascination with weapons. The agency has also solicited input from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency and the Pennsylvania Juvenile Judges Commission. Additionally, a “Weapons Deterrence For Youth” booklet has been developed to provide youth with information and education on this subject. The booklet will be used for school and community presentations.

Youth, Gangs, and Drugs

Operation Gang Up

Congressman Lou Barletta and State Senator John Yudichak have joined forces in establishing a powerful multi-county gang prevention/education program entitled, “Operation Gang Up”. WVADS, Inc. has been asked to play a pivotal role through presentations on gang awareness at community forums, and the CEO, Carmen F. Ambrosino, has been asked to serve as a co-chairman of a bi-county agency sub-committee. Additionally, WVADS, Inc. staff (Carmen F. Ambrosino, CEO, and Jason Harlen, Assistant CEO) have participated in a national gang conference in Las Vegas, NV. Also, all staff of the agency have undergone extensive gang training and workshops conducted by Capt. Robert Maguire, foremost gang trainer with the Lackawanna County Prison. The agency has developed a community booklet entitled, “Youth, Gangs, and Drugs”, that has been highly acclaimed for its informational content. Finally, the agency offers assistance to young people to prevent them from becoming involved with gang activity. Counselors, as well as the agency’s prevention/education team, is well-versed in initiatives to dissuade youth from gang involvement.


Street gangs, outlaw motorcycle gangs, and prison gangs are the primary distributors of illegal drugs on the streets of the United States. There are 30,000 gangs in the United States with close to 1 million members. According to a recent Department of Justice survey, 20 percent of students aged 12 through 18 reported that street gangs had been present at their school during the previous 6 months. Gangs represent less than 1 percent of the total population in most communities; however, in many areas, they commit as much as half of all crime.


  • Caucasian
  • Hispanic
  • African-American
  • Asian
  • Prison
  • Outlaw Motorcycle

Additionally, there are SUPER GANGS whose membership typically exceeds 1,000 members, and they operate in numerous states with extensive and well-organized drug networks.

Examples of Super Gangs:

  • Bloods
  • Crips
  • Surenos
  • Norteños
  • Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13)
  • Latin Kings
  • Black Gangster Disciples
  • 18th Street
  • The Folk Nation
  • The People Nation


Today, more than at any other time in our history, more youth have become disenfranchised from their individual families and the community as a whole. Dr. Matthew David O’Deane in his book, “Gang Investigator’s Handbook”, states, “Many gangs exploit the weaknesses of youth recruits, playing on their own fears and vulnerabilities and manipulating them into believing that
the gang will be a better family when compared to their real family.” Additionally, according to Dr. O’Deane, “members are being recruited between 9 and 14 years old and more females are
being recruited than in the past.” Our agency, as well, has become increasingly concerned that more youth are becoming fixated and enamored with the gang culture; hand signs used by
various gangs, tattoos affiliated with gang names, clothing/patches specific to certain gangs, paraphernalia. Additionally, youth gangs have proliferated since 1980 and are attracting youth at earlier ages. It is imperative, we feel, to challenge our community to become pro-active through the development of educational and informative resources. After all, is there anything more important than our children?


  • Skipping school/truancy
  • Using gang hand signs
  • Wearing clothing of the same color
  • Wearing bandanas
  • Rolling up their pant legs in a certain way
  • Gang related/specific tattoos
  • Imitate the dress and actions of rap artists
  • Drug/alcohol use
  • Sudden changes in friends
  • Decline in school grades
  • Withdrawing from family activities
  • Staying out late or all night
  • Arrogant or defiant attitude
  • Having money without having a job
  • Using gang language
  • Running away
  • Becoming sexually promiscuous
  • Suicide attempts
  • Involvement in criminal activity


According to Dr. Matthew David O’Deane, author of the “Gang Investigator’s Handbook”, “gangs form in part because they fulfill crucial psychological needs for their members.” Many experts today feel that an unstable family unit is the greatest predictor of gang membership, even more so than poverty or lack of social services. Gang research findings indicate that compared with non-gang youth, gang members are more socially inept, have lower self-esteem, and in general, have sociopathic characteristics. Additionally, according to the research, they have more delinquent views of themselves, have experienced more traumatizing events in their life, and have greater tendencies to resolve conflicts by threats and violence. One of the most consistent findings from research on gangs is the role of negative peer pressure/influence. The strongest predictors of sustained gang affiliation are a high level of interaction with delinquent, anti-social peers, and a low level of interaction with positive social peers.

Youth: Drugs, Alcohol, and Suicide

WVADS, Inc. has developed and produced a new booklet entitled, “Youth; Drugs, Alcohol, and Suicide”, which continues to be widely distributed throughout Luzerne and Wyoming Counties. Both the clinical and prevention/education staff have undergone extensive training on this subject. Local school districts, in responding to 4 completed suicides in a one-week period of 2012, solicited the assistance of the agency in responding to these emergencies. Consultation, recommendations, and information for schools and community were developed. The agency reviewed cluster suicide reports from Dover, Delaware incidents, spoke with parents whose children had completed suicides, and reviewed literature and research in the development of these materials. The National Household Survey of Drug Abuse found that young people ages 12-17 who used alcohol or illegal drugs were more likely to be at risk for suicide than young people who did not use alcohol or drugs. The top 3 killers of young people in the United States, ages 16-25, are car accidents, murders, and suicides—and drugs and alcohol are responsible for 75% of these deaths. Approximately 1 out of every 15 high school students attempt suicide each year The National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) believes that as many as 25 teen suicides are attempted for each one that is completed According to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website, although bullying doesn’t cause suicide, a stressful environment and persistent emotional victimization can increase a person’s risk of suicide.

School Based

Prevention/Education Services

WVADS, Inc. has a unique relationship with school districts that is different than any other across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We assign a full-time trained Prevention/Education Specialist to a total of 11 school districts in Luzerne, Wyoming, and Carbon Counties.

Topics Addressed In Prevention/Education School-Based Programs:

  • Refusal Skills
  • Decision Making
  • Problem Solving
  • Coping Skills
  • Selecting Healthy Peers
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Peer Mediation
  • Self-Esteem Building
  • Risk vs. Protective Factors
  • Role of Supportive Networks

Methods Utilized For Prevention/Education:

  • Didactic Lecture
  • Small Group Discussion
  • Closed Circuit Television
  • Panel Discussions
  • Use of Recovering Addicts/Alcoholics
  • Pre- and Post-Testing
  • Critique Exercises
  • Role Playing
  • General Assemblies
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We are redeveloping our website to serve you better. Please call (570) 820-8888 if you would like more information or require immediate assistance.