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State Using Pot Revenue to Fund ‘Sims’-Style Drug Conversations

Maureen Meehan

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State Using Pot Revenue to Fund 'Sims'-Style Drug Conversations

Sims fans, get ready to see your favorite characters in lifelike, role-playing computer exercises talking about drugs and alcohol.

As we know, Colorado is using tax revenue from the sale of legal cannabis to fund many projects, such as housing the homeless, K-12 education and substance abuse prevention and treatment programs.

To that end, an organization called Peer Assistance Services recently received $200,000 from the Colorado Health Department to fund it its newest project—One Degree: Shift the Influence, which includes Sims-style computer exercises designed to create a role-playing atmosphere for users, simulating two lifelike situations.

Each One Degree character has problems that every age group can relate to, explained Westword.

In one, a recently divorced woman is using alcohol to cope with stress and mental anguish. In another a younger man is partying too much with booze and weed, and it’s negatively affecting his job.

The users play the role of Phil, a cousin of the woman or a co-worker of the young man, and they talk to each character about their issues in a simulation that lasts several minutes. The approach, skills and choice of language in each segment can be used later in real-life conversations one might have with someone in a similar situation.

“We wanted to build a confidence about bringing up a topic that can be uncomfortable,” said Carolyn Swenson, a consultant and trainer for Peer Assistance. “It’s about helping people find out what can make a conversation like this successful or unsuccessful.”

Swenson feels there hasn’t been enough drug and alcohol prevention, and early intervention and the result has cost the country a lot of money when people start developing serious problems later in life.

“We feel like a focus on prevention makes a lot of sense. When you bring these topics up with general health care, it de-stigmatizes the issue,” said Swenson.

Peer Assistance’s idea is to make the program accessible to anyone with a computer or smartphone and an Internet connection.

Although One Degree was made with Coloradans in mind, the program is available to anyone in the country. You can try each Sims-style simulated drug talk and learn more about Peer Assistance on the One Degree website.

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