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Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Prevention

Substance Use Disorder Prevention

Substance use prevention services aims stop problems with alcohol, drugs, and other substances, before they start. These services can also stop these problems from getting worse.

To explain local prevention and education in Suffolk County, Partners in Prevention has created a helpful guide called Let’s Talk Prevention. You can download PDF version of this guide, and read the content on this page.

Partners in Prevention (PIP) is a network of substance abuse providers in Suffolk County. PIP acts as a Task Group of the Suffolk County Division of Community Mental Hygiene Advisory Board’s Alcohol and Substance Abuse Sub-Committee.

PIP members coordinate professional development and technical assistance for prevention providers throughout the County; inform them of challenges and barriers to service; and assist individuals, families, and communities in developing knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed to make healthy choices.

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.

We strongly encourage schools to provide comprehensive prevention programs which encompass grades K-12. The evidence-based curricula delivered are specifically designed to build on knowledge gained from previous years as well as consistently introduce new, more complex concepts and ideas.

Whether in a classroom or small group setting, research has shown that a comprehensive prevention program implemented across the grade spectrum promotes developmentally appropriate, solution-focused, healthy alternatives to risky behavior by teaching:

  • Knowledge of the short and long term consequences of substance use and abuse
  • Cognitive and behavioral competencies
  • Greater self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Skills to resist internal and external pressure to smoke, drink, and use drugs

In an effort to reduce and prevent a variety of health risk behaviors and increase overall student success, these skills should be taught over time in a well-structured, continuous format.

Prevention agencies and curriculum developers appreciate the limited amount of classroom time teachers have to cover mandated materials, while still adhering to New York State’s Common Core and Health Standards, and Performance Indicators.

Most of the evidence-based curricula offered by local prevention agencies have shown correlations to these standards. Documents detailing the breakdown of specific academic alignment for each evidence-based curricula can be found on individual program websites, as well as discussed with your local Prevention Provider.

A note about one-shot presentations: One-time presentations can indeed supplement, but should NOT be seen as a substitute for a comprehensive K-12 prevention plan for your students!

Substance use is a public health concern, one requiring an approach that goes beyond primary prevention, individual intervention, or treatment. A collaborative effort is needed by all community members to support activities implemented in schools. A great way community members can support prevention efforts put forth by schools is by getting involved in their local community coalition.

Community coalition work utilizes evidence-based approaches such as the Strategic Prevention Framework and environmental strategies to address substance use and abuse from the community perspective.

Coalitions are a great way to integrate and align resources in the community and engage multiple sectors in prevention efforts including schools, law enforcement, local/county government, youth agencies, parents, youth, businesses, and more.

This approach maximizes the power of individuals, mobilizes local talent, and allows problem identification, data collection and collaborative solutions to be citizen driven. This builds capacity, making our communities safer and healthier while providing effective prevention services.

Examples of coalition strategies include:

  • Activities which assess the community’s needs and resources
  • Activities which increase overall knowledge of substance use and abuse
  • Informative trainings for professionals and community members
  • Campaigns to address underage drinking
  • Advocacy and policy work to change or improve laws and regulations

For local coalition development support, and a complete listing of active coalitions, services, and trainings in Suffolk County visit: or email

For general information about coalitions, visit Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America:

Don’t have a coalition in your community? START ONE!

At some point before your child reaches adulthood, they may feel pressured to use alcohol and other drugs. It will not be a stranger in a trench coat offering it to them; most likely they will be lured by a friend, neighbor, or older sibling. The question is not if this person will come into your child's life, but when. How will your child navigate those difficult situations? That depends in a large part on what you do now. Your child is probably at that stage where they are old enough to understand serious subjects and young enough to accept parental guidance. Discussing unhealthy behaviors such as alcohol and other drug use right now is critical, and utilizing the steps described below will give your child the tools needed to say NO loud and clear!

Wondering how to start the conversation with your kids about alcohol and drugs? “LET’S B REAL”

  • L – Let’s be honest. Talk to your kids about any family history of addiction and explain the risks involved if they choose to use alcohol or other drugs
  • E – Encourage your child to share their thoughts and perceptions. Children will learn and hear things about alcohol and drugs, so it’s important for you to know what they know and how they feel about it.
  • T – Teachable moments and real world examples. Take advantage of moments presented to start a conversation about alcohol and drug use: recent events in the news; a character on a television shoe; a situation with family, friends, etc.
  • S – Stay Strong and be consistent. Continue to reinforce previously established riles and consequences about the use of alcohol or other drugs.
  • B – Be mindful of their transitions (physical and emotional). Physical and emotional changes are a challenge for young people, and can lead to confusion, unhealthy decision making, and change in attitude.
  • R – Realistic. Talk to your child about all the dangers associated with alcohol and other drugs.
  • E – Educate yourself. Knowledge is power! The more you know about alcohol and other drugs, the easier it will be for you to help guide your child in the right direction.
  • A – Assign the time to talk. Make the time to talk to your child about alcohol and other drugs: during car rides, at the dinner table, at family outings, etc.
  • L – Listen to your child! Taking an interest in what your child has to day will make it easier to understand their perspective, and can also help pick up on signs that something may be going on in their life.

Partners in Prevention has created a full list of trusted, local prevention providers. Pages 5 and 6 of the Let’s Talk Prevention guide lists the prevention providers in your area who can deliver comprehensive evidence-based curricula and supplemental single presentations.

Please visit the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP) for more information about the proven prevention programs available for implementation for your youth:

Important Numbers:

If you are experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis, call for help!

  • Family Service League’s Diagnostic, Assessment, and Stabilization Hub (DASH) Program, 24/7 hotline: For mental health, addiction, and crisis care for children and adults in Suffolk County, call (631) 952–3333

  • 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: If you are feeling suicidal, are in need of support or rescue, or are in crisis, call or text 988. Help is available 24/7

    • For local support, call the Response of Suffolk 24/7 Crisis Hotline (631) 751-7500

  • For a medical emergency, call 911