Drug Abuse Prevention

Casey Mahoney

Casey’s work in the prevention field began in 1998 at the Queens Community House Beacon Program. This program served 1500-2500 children per year in Queens, New York City.

The concept for the Beacon Programs of the late 90s was that teens in urban neighborhoods are at risk for drug abuse and are likely to get involved with drug trafficking unless steps are taken to keep them on the right path. One of the major risk factors identified by studies during this era was boredom. By converting schools into youth centers from 3pm-10pm every day, the Beacon Programs aimed to keep kids busy with engaging and enriching activities, reducing the likelihood of substance abuse and narcotics trafficking.

From 1998-2004, Casey worked in the Beacon Program as their Men’s Development Specialist, creating and implementing activities that would attract teens into positive pursuits while also creating an opportunity for informal counseling.

A foundational concept for the Beacon Programs was that at-risk teens have an aversion to in-office counseling sessions and are more open to guidance during the course of activities. For example, a 13 year old who has taken up smoking might refuse to see a therapist about the issue, but might be willing to listen to his basketball coach during halftime of a game at his youth center.

During Casey’s 6 years with Queens Community House, the Beacon program served over 10,000 kids aged 12-21 in Queens. The Beacon’s population included a mix of middle class kids from Forest Hills, poverty affected kids from nearby housing project LeFrak city, brand new immigrants from Eastern Europe and South America, and refugees who had fled from genocidal wars (The Balkan Wars of 1991-2001 and the Rwandan genocide of 1994).

Casey's in Black Tshirts
Casey Mahoney