What should I look for in a Prevention program?
Prevention of substance abuse is most commonly facilitated through the provision of education and dissemination of accurate information about drugs and alcohol. Prevention agencies and coalitions in Arizona promote and implement prevention and early intervention strategies to reduce the impact of substance use disorders in our communities.
Preventing substance use disorders and related problems in children, adolescents, and young adults is critical to ensuring the overall wellbeing of our citizens. If communities and families can intervene early, chemical dependency disorders might be prevented.
Experts attest that a variety of prevention interventions are required to address substance use issues in communities because they are among the most difficult social problems to prevent or reduce. A community should evaluate prevention programs to determine if they offer comprehensive solutions that fit the particular needs of their community and that they function within the cultural context of its population.
Local community agencies may offer prevention approaches that focus on helping individuals develop the knowledge, attitudes, and skills they need to make good choices or change harmful behaviors. Many of these strategies can be classroom-based. Other agencies may elect to approach prevention through the use of environmental prevention strategies, which are tailored to local community characteristics and address the root causes of risky behaviors by creating environments that make it easier to act in healthy ways. The successful execution of these strategies often involves lawmakers, local officials, and community leaders, as well as the acceptance and active involvement of members from various sectors of the community (such as business, faith, schools, and health).
Community coalitions are increasingly used as a vehicle to foster improvements in community health. A coalition is traditionally defined as “a group of individuals representing diverse organizations, factions or constituencies who agree to work together to achieve a common goal.” Community coalitions include professional and grassroots members committed to working together to influence long-term health and welfare practices in their community. The activities of community coalitions include outreach, education, prevention, service delivery, capacity building, empowerment, community action, and promoting systemic change.
In determining the most appropriate prevention program for a community, the Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family encourages communities to consider the program’s answers to the following questions:
- What kind of Prevention programs does the agency / coalition offer and do they use prevention strategies that are backed by scientific evidence?
- Does the Prevention program have particular population restrictions? (i.e. age, gender, families only, children only, adults only, etc.)
- When are the Prevention programs offered and how often? (i.e. day, evening, weekends)
- Where is the program located? Are there multiple locations?
- Does the Prevention program focus on particular substances? If yes, what substances are addressed?
- Does the program tailor the Prevention program to the needs of the community where you live?
- Have they done a Needs Assessment of your community?
- How are they addressing the identified needs?
- Are there any fees associated with the program? If yes, how much?
For more information on national Prevention resources, please reference these resources.
- Drug-Free Communities Support Program: 2012 National Evaluation Report (PDF)
- Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP)
- Institute of Medicine and National Research Council - Preventing Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Disorders Among Young People Report – 2009
- National Institute on Drug Abuse - Risk Factors and Protective Factors
- National Institute on Drug Abuse - Preventing Drug Use among Children and Adolescents
- Office of Drug Control Policy - Prevention (ONDCP)
- SAMHSA Prevention of Substance Abuse and Mental Health
- SAMHSA Center for the Application of Prevention Technologies’ Key Features of Risk and Protective Factors
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2014, September 29). Prevention of Substance Abuse and Mental Illness. Retrieved from http://www.samhsa.gov/prevention