Prevention is any activity that is intended to reduce or minimize the incidence of drug abuse and its negative consequences.
Prevention programs may vary widely, but generally are associated with information, education, alternative behaviors, and primary and early intervention activities. These services focus on reducing risk factors and building protective factors and may be directed at any segment of the population. Several prevention activities or strategies may be used effectively in combination.
Types of Prevention Activities/Strategies
Substance abuse prevention strategies include:
Provides for the participation of target populations in constructive and healthy activities that exclude drug use. Constructive and healthy activities offset the attraction to, or otherwise meet the needs usually addressed by alcohol and other drugs. Some examples include drug free dances, youth/adult leadership activities, community drop-in centers; and community service activities.
Enhances the ability of the community to more effectively provide prevention and treatment services for alcohol, tobacco and drug abuse disorders. Activities in this strategy include organizing, planning, enhancing efficiency and effectiveness of services implementation, inter-agency collaboration, coalition building and networking. Some examples include: community and volunteer training, e.g., neighborhood action training, training of key people in the system, staff/officials training; systematic planning; multi-agency coordination and collaboration; accessing services and funding; and community team building.
Uses activities designed to come between an early substance abuser and his or her actions in order to modify behavior. It includes a wide spectrum of activities ranging from user education to formal intervention and referral to treatment from a substance abuse professional.
Builds critical life and social skills through structured learning processes. Critical life and social skills include decision making, peer resistance, coping with stress, problem solving, interpersonal communication, and systematic and judgmental abilities. Some examples include: classroom and/or small group sessions; parenting and family management classes; peer leader/helper programs; education programs for youth groups; and children of substance abusers groups.
Establishes activities to change written and unwritten community standards, codes, and attitudes that tend to tolerate, accept or support the abuse of drugs in the general population. This strategy is divided into two subcategories to permit distinction between activities that center on legal and regulatory initiatives and those that relate to the service and action-oriented initiatives. Some examples include: promoting the review of drug use policies in school; technical assistance to communities to maximize local enforcement procedures governing availability and distribution of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs; modifying alcohol and tobacco advertising practices; and product pricing strategies.
Provides knowledge and increases awareness of the nature and extent of drug use, abuse, addiction, and their effects on individuals, families, and communities. This strategy also provides knowledge and increases awareness of available prevention and treatment programs and services. Some examples include the following: clearinghouse/information resource centers; resource directories; media campaigns; brochures; radio/TV public service announcements; speaking engagements; health fairs/ health promotion; and information line.
Problem Identification and Referral
Includes activities to identify those who have engaged in illegal or age-inappropriate use of tobacco or alcohol and persons who have begun to use illicit drugs. This strategy assesses whether this early alcohol and drug use can be reversed through education. It does not include any activity designed to determine if a person is in need of treatment. Some examples include: employee assistance programs; student assistance programs; and driving while under the influence /driving while intoxicated education programs.