Former Little House On The Prairie star Melissa Gilbert has joined the Partnership for a Drug-Free America as its first ever Celebrity Champion.

The initiative has been launched to coincide with the organization’s new name, The Partnership at Drugfree.org. The new name reflects the nonprofit’s commitment to serving and supporting parents and families.

The change further reflects how the organization has grown since its founding in 1986 as a prevention-focused, anti-drug advertising campaign to a reliable partner and online community for parents and families seeking guidance and support on teen drug and alcohol use.

By focusing on parents and caregivers, working at the grassroots level and embracing the power of the web to communicate and connect, the organization has evolved to fulfill its important mission to help parents prevent, intervene in and find treatment for drug and alcohol use by their children. Parents will find deep, credible and science-based resources to help them and their families at drugfree.org.

11 million of America’s teens and young adults are struggling with drugs or alcohol, yet unlike most other adolescent health issues or diseases, parents haven’t found a clear path to resources and support for teen addiction.

“When it comes to preventing or helping a child involved with drug use and drinking, already a stigmatized issue, parents are at a loss,” said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of The Partnership at Drugfree.org. “Over the past six years, we have created programs and resources to fill that gap and be a trustworthy, non-judgmental place to get answers and support, whether that’s online via drugfree.org or in their community through our grassroots education programs.”

While both parents and research point to a need for an organization like The Partnership at Drugfree.org, the nonprofit’s first celebrity champion, Melissa Gilbert, added, “I believe that the most compelling reality is that all parents will move heaven and earth to protect their children’s health because they love their kids.” She applauded the organization’s changes, saying, “Both as a mother and as a person who is living a life in recovery, I know firsthand what a struggle it is for both a teen or young adult in trouble and their parent who feels helpless and utterly alone. The Partnership at Drugfree.org is here for all parents, myself included, at whatever their stage of need – from prevention to recovery – and most importantly reinforces that we are not alone.”

Addiction takes a toll on families and an equally devastating toll on society. 35 million families with children ages 9-17 need help with drug and alcohol prevention.

“The economic impact of substance abuse is staggering,” said Patricia Russo, chairman of The Partnership at Drugfree.org. With estimated costs to society from illicit drugs at $280 billion, Russo added, “We can’t reduce the costs in the workplace due to drug and alcohol abuse and improve our global competitiveness as a nation until we better prepare and support parents in raising healthy teens, helping them to be more informed, empowered and better able to help their children.”

Gilbert, who has personally struggled with addiction and is now a parent spokesperson for the organization, added, “The burden and the responsibility for taking action on this issue falls to us, to parents. I hope that, like me, other parents will find The Partnership at Drugfree.org as a true partner. Here for us wherever we are and whenever we need help. It is my long-term hope that I will be able to help them achieve their goals, and fewer families will struggle with the pain of addiction. For now, I want families going through the agony and confusion of dealing with addiction to know that they are not alone. We are here. I am here and I understand.”

Find out more here.

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