Prevention, by definition, is the action of stopping something from happening or arising. It requires consistent monitoring to help maintain the desired result. As substance use prevention professionals, we work to assist individuals, families, and communities in developing the knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed to make healthy choices; to promote wellness, and to prevent or reduce the risk of developing a behavioral health problem.
The overarching goals of the programs and services we provide are to:
- Prevent any alcohol and other drug use by youth under the age of 21
- Prevent the use of any illegal drugs by all individuals
- Delay the age of first use of harmful substances for as long as possible, with a particular emphasis on gateway drugs [alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana]
Key Terms to Help You Understand Prevention:
Protective Factors are conditions or attributes (skills, strengths, resources, supports or coping strategies) in individuals, families, communities or the larger society which help them deal more effectively with stressful events and lessen the likelihood of negative consequences from exposure to risk. These increase the opportunities for positive outcomes.
Risk Factors are conditions or attributes in the individual, family, community, or cultural level that precede and are associated with a higher likelihood of negative outcomes.
Evidence-Based Programs (EBPs) are sets of prevention activities, strategies, and curricula that thorough evaluation research has shown to be effective. Some help youth and families develop the intentions and skills to make healthy, informed decisions, while others focus on creating an environment that supports healthy behaviors and choices.
Environmental Strategies are prevention activities seeking to establish or change community standards, social norms, codes, and attitudes, thereby influencing the incidence and prevalence of drug use in the general population.