The Living Skills in the Schools Program Sees Huge Success in Substance Abuse Prevention Following Creation of Innovative Family Box


Organization announces another round of 500 boxes available to distribute to families in Palm Beach County.

Palm Beach County, FL. –  At a time when educators were desperate for connection and continuity with their students, the Living Skills in the Schools program knew there was opportunity to reach families in a creative way and one that they could utilize together, wherever they felt safe. Their idea? An innovative Family Box (short for Family Box for Substance Abuse Prevention) designed around evidenced-based research showing that families that dine together at least three times a week are more likely to reduce substance abuse in their teens.

“We knew immediately that while things looked different because of COVID-19, there were going to be challenges and an increased need, so we didn’t lose these kids,” shared Dr. Suzanne Spencer, CEO of the Living Skills in the Schools Program. “For years, the majority of our programs were delivered in the schools and when students were no longer in brick-and-mortar classrooms, the risks increased. The impact of uncertainty and social isolation always poses a greater risk of turning to substances to cope so we needed to find a way to continue our mission.”

With school partners, the organization deployed five hundred boxes in January of 2021 to families throughout Palm Beach County. Since then, they’ve seen many incredible and positive impacts of their work. Now, thanks to the support of the Health Council of Southeast Florida and Florida Health Palm Beach County, they will have an additional five hundred boxes available for distribution by August to families with school-aged children in grades 5-12 across Palm Beach County.  

The boxes are free of charge to eligible families and will be available by request in late July. Once requested, they will be shipped within 24 hours.

“The digital, tabletop video brochure is a 4.5” mini tv screen that does not require access to technology, computer literacy, or batteries,” said Dr. Spencer. The one-hour prevention education, the same program that Living Skills in the Schools has been teaching in schools and to families throughout Palm Beach County for years, is preprogrammed on the LCD screen video brochure. Families hear directly from a licensed professional, and a prevention speaker who shares their lived experience with substance abuse to deliver an authentic prevention message.

Added Dr. Spencer, “There are two sets of conversation cards: one for adults to ask thought provoking questions to their teens and one for teens to ask questions to the adults in their family. A memoir written by a mother who shares her story about when addiction hit home for her teen, a bookmark with the early signs of risky behavior printed on it, a 211 resource guide, a voucher for a family meal for 4 from Bud’s Chicken and Seafood and four shirts in a variety of sizes. The shirts to be worn by family members say, “talk with your mouth full;” a powerful play on words to coincide with family dinners being a powerfulantidote to substance abuse.”

While the method of delivering substance abuse education is evolving as the world evolves, the Living Skills in the Schools Program’s impact is holding steady. LSIS has been delivering free programming to the students, educators, parents, school counselors, and the community in Palm Beach County since its inception in 1999 and has reached over 323,000 students to date. LSIS teaches the skills and perspective needed to resist substance abuse, to fight addiction and to increase resilience in the next generations. The age-appropriate resources for students in grades K-12 are available on their website, in schools, and now at home.

Added LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist) Teresa Bairos, “Without a handbook, families are often left feeling unprepared for communicating with one another about drug abuse. The Family Box for Substance Abuse Prevention offers parents evidenced based strategies for building resilience, improving peer to peer communication, problem solving skills and perhaps most importantly, fostering the adult/child relationship.  Providing families with the risk/resiliency factors that lead to the indicators of substance use vs non-use can help each family individualize their approach to the conversation with the assistance of specific items to help them open the door to communication.”

To support the efforts of the Living Skills in the Schools program through the sponsorship, or to create a partnership to expand the reach of The Family Box, please contact Dr. Suzanne Spencer, Ed.D. at (561) 501-6322 or For additional resources, more information, or to learn how your family can continue the conversation at home, visit https://livingskillsintheschools.orgLiving Skills in the Schools is a program under the CRC Recovery Foundation Inc.