The Barnstable County Department of Human Services is producing a series of issue briefs for the Barnstable County Regional Substance Abuse Council (RSAC) that present factual information on an array of topics related to substance use.  Links to recently published Issues Brief 4 and 5 are presented below.  All Issue Briefs and more substance use related reports and resources can be found on the RSAC Publications and Data web page.

Issue Brief 4: Marijuana and the Teen Brain

Marijuana decriminalization and legalization is a contested topic in today’s society. With several states including California and Massachusetts proposing ballot initiatives in 2016 that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults we can expect to see increased focus on both the alleged benefits and risks associated with legalization. Research shows the negative effects of marijuana use on the teenage brain and thus the implications of potential increased access and normalization of use on this age group must be considered.

Issue Brief 5: Stigma, Health Outcomes and Why ‘Words Matter

Research and practice show that there are many negative effects associated with the stigmatization of people with substance use disorders. Stigma serves to isolate persons struggling with addiction and contributes to their difficulty in seeking, receiving, and succeeding in treatment and recovery. Use of stigmatizing language in private and in the public spheres of discourse and the media serve to reinforce and extend the stigma already in place. By working to reduce these stigma and creating a more informed community, we can work toward improving access and outcomes in health care and substance use treatment.

Previously Published Issue Briefs:

Issue Brief 1: Use of Scare Tactics in Prevention Messaging 

Issue Brief 2: Use of Social Norms Campaigns

Issue Brief 3: MA Ballot Initiative: The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act


The Barnstable County Regional Substance Abuse Council (RSAC) has established a communication infrastructure across towns, providers, organizations, and individuals on Cape Cod to identify and address regional gaps and disparities in the substance use service provider system, maximize inter-agency collaboration and maximize funding and resource opportunities.  RSAC facilitates for a coordinated and comprehensive regional approach to substance use across the continuum of prevention, treatment, intervention, and recovery.