The Denver Resource for Awareness and Prevention (DenverRAP) was developed by the Denver Office of Drug Strategy (DODS) in 2011. We strive to help meet the overwhelming need for substance abuse prevention information, education and other resources in Denver.
DenverRAP provides upstream prevention programming in Denver focusing on youth drinking and other substance abuse topics to parents, youth, service providers, and the local community.
DenverRAP currently offers the following programs and resources to the community:
- Presentations to youth and adult community groups
- Referrals for youth and parents with substance use issues or questions
- Parent Toolkits for parents or caregivers containing strategies for talking to your kids about alcohol (available en Espanol)
- Pamphlets and other materials for distribution at events
Contact DenverRAP at 720-423-2269 for more information on our community offerings.
What is Upstream Prevention
When we discuss upstream prevention, we often refer to the following story:
“There once was a man who lived in a village situated near a waterfall along a river. Every day he would take a walk along the river’s edge near the waterfall. On one particular day he heard a shout coming from the water and saw a kid caught up in the current, about to go over the waterfall. Springing into action, he swam out to the kid and pulled him to safety. The next day he was on his regular walk when he heard another shout and saw another kid in the current. As he pulled this one to safety he heard yet another shout from the current. The people of the village began to realize that there were an overwhelming number of kids caught in the current being swept towards the waterfall. They began to get organized; they trained lifeguards, built watchtowers and trained everyone in CPR and mouth-tomouth resuscitation. They saved a lot of kids but they weren’t able to save all of them, some still went over the waterfall. One day the man started to walk upstream. The others began to say to him, “Where are you going? We need you here!” He replied “I’m going upstream to see if I can keep some kids from falling in the river in the first place.”
Upstream prevention seeks to build protective factors into a community, by teaching resiliency and coping, and strengthening youth-adult connectedness, so that, kids never fall in the river in the first place, or when they do they know how to swim and get themselves out of the river while the waters are still relatively tranquil.
(Sources of Strength)
Over the past 15 years Nachshon has reached a broad spectrum of people in his work specializing in substances abuse, trauma, and mental health issues. He started his career as a therapist at a substance abuse clinic in Salt Lake City, UT. In 2001, he moved to Denver to lead the Women and Family Program at Denver Health’s Outpatient Behavioral Health Services. In 2006, he became the Program Administrator for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment for the Denver Department of Human Services, Child Welfare Division, where he was especially proud of his work developing and implementing Denver EFFECT – a collaborative, family-focused substance abuse program that views the family as the client rather than just the individual; implementing the Trauma Informed Practice (TIP) initiative; and creating effective collaborative partnerships with other community systems.
Nachshon is currently the director of the Denver Office of Drug Strategy, which is a division within the Denver Department of Human Services. This program partners with the community in order to prevent and treat substance abuse and other related behavioral health issues, track and analyze substance abuse trends that impact the community, promote public health through efforts that mitigate the dangers related to substance abuse, and alert policy makers to substance abuse issues that rise to the level of public concern and then offer guidance on possible ways forward.
Nachshon Zohari, LCSW
Director, Denver Office of Drug Strategy
1200 Federal Blvd., Denver, CO 80204
Michel Holien supervises the Substance Use Prevention Program and began working in DPS in December of 2015. Prior to that, she worked in Boulder County for a multi-agency collaborative dedicated to promoting resiliency in adolescents by providing school-based, health-related prevention and intervention services. Michel is a licensed clinical social worker who brings with her a unique blend of direct service experience as well as a public health background. She has a passion for up-stream prevention (addressing problems before they start) rather than trying to fix things after the fact. Michel’s expertise is in program management and development, as well as social emotional program implementation in school settings.
Whole Child Supports
Julie is the Prevention Specialist located full-time at Hamilton Middle School. Originally from Philadelphia, Julie has been in Colorado since the summer of 2015. As a mindfulness based therapist and yoga instructor, she brings a holistic approach to substance use. Julie is passionate about helping teens develop positive coping skills to navigate the difficult teenage years without the use of drugs and alcohol
Leah has worked as a prevention specialist for Denver Public Schools since August 2016. Prior joining the DPS team, Leah worked for the Denver Office of Drug Strategy, where she worked to connect the Denver Youth with resources needed to make safe and healthy decisions regarding drugs and alcohol. She brings expertise in marketing, public relations and communications to the organization.
Leah earned her bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Metropolitan State University in May of 2014.
Alice Franco is the Prevention Specialist at Hill Campus of Arts and Science and serves as a trainer on the Marijuana Prevention Training Grant. Alice joined the team in the winter of 2017 after recently moving over from public health sector. From her fifteen years of work at the University of Colorado Health Science Center, Denver Health and Crawford Family Resource Center, Alice brings expertise in community engagement, patient/client navigation, chronic disease self-management, and in-patient tobacco treatment counseling.
Originally from Arizona, Alice has a BA in History from Trinity University, and an MA in International and Intercultural Communication from DU. Fluent in Spanish, Alice is motivated to ensure students and families receive the support and services that they need to help create and/or maintain happy and healthy school and home lives.
Sara is a Prevention/Intervention Specialist at Noel Community Arts School. She received her Bachelors of Arts in Psychology from the University of Washington and her Masters of Arts in Forensic Psychology from the University of Denver. Sara is a transplant from Washington and has been in Colorado since 2009. Prior to joining the DPS team Sara spent nine years working in the juvenile justice system providing case management, prevention and intervention services, and advocacy to at-risk youth experiencing substance use, trauma, mental health needs. One of her main goals is to empower youth by providing information, education, and skills to assist them in successfully navigating their environments and relationships.