Substance abuse prevention

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Substance abuse prevention, also known as drug abuse prevention, is a process that attempts to prevent the onset of substance use or limit the development of problems associated with using psychoactive substances. Prevention efforts may focus on the individual or their surroundings. A concept known as "environmental prevention" focuses on changing community conditions or policies so that the availability of substances is reduced as well as the demand. [1]

Substance abuse prevention efforts typically focus on minors – children and teens. Substances typically targeted by preventive efforts include alcohol (including binge drinking, drunkenness, and driving under the influence), tobacco (including cigarettes and various forms of smokeless tobacco), marijuana, inhalants (volatile solvents including among other things glue, gasoline, aerosols, ether, fumes from correction fluid and marking pens), cocaine (including crack cocaine), methamphetamine, steroids, club drugs (such as MDMA), and opioids.

Rational scale to asses the harm of drugs


Drugs use levels in the U.S.

Protective and risk factors[edit]

Research has shown that there are various possible factors that could influence and increase the probability of drug use in youth. Environmental factors in the child's youth are: child abuse, exposure to drugs, lack of supervision, media influence, and peer pressure. Internal factors that are within the child or personality-based are self-esteem, poor social skills, attitudes about drugs, mental disorder and many others.[3] Environmental issues are one cause of drug use among teenagers. If you place a child through treatment and then place them back into the same environment that they left, there is a great chance that they will go back to their previous behavior. Treatment needs to be a full circle, there needs to be mental health counseling for the user as well as the family, this needs to incorporate substance abuse treatment as well. A few more factors that contribute to teen drug abuse are lack of parent to child communication, unsupervised accessibility of alcohol at home, having too much freedom and being left alone for long periods of time.[4]

Key risk periods for drug abuse occur during major transitions in a child's life. Some of these transitional periods that could increase the possibility of youth using drugs are puberty, moving, divorce, leaving the security of the home and entering school. School transitions such as those from elementary to middle school or middle school to high school can be times that children and teenagers make new friends and are more susceptible to fall into environments where there are drugs available. One recent study examined that by the time adolescents are seniors in high school, "almost 70 percent will have tried alcohol, half will have taken an illegal drug, nearly 40 percent will have smoked a cigarette, and more than 20 percent will have used a prescription drug for a nonmedical purpose.” [5] Binge drinking has also, been shown to increase once an individual leaves the home to attend college or live on their own.[6]

Most youth do not progress towards abusing other drugs after experimentation. The earlier the drug use, research shows, the greater possibility for addiction to occur. Three exacerbating factors that can influence drug use to become drug abuse are social approval, lack of perceived risks, and availability of drugs in the community. Kids believe themselves to be invincible, changes won't be made until something extreme happens, a friend overdoses, a car accident or even death. Even then its not likely a child will see the correlation between use and trauma.

Protective factors are important to consider in the prevention of substance abuse among youth and adolescents. A protective factor refers to anything that prevents or reduces vulnerability for the development of a disorder such as Substance Abuse Disorder. Research has generated an exhaustive list of protective factors specifically for the prevention of substance abuse in youth: Strong and positive family bonds, parental monitoring of children's activities and peers (monitoring social networking sites), clear rule of conduct that are consistently reinforced within the family, involvement of parents in the lives of their children, success in school performance, high self-esteem, strong bonds with institutions like schools and religious organizations, and adoption of conventional norms about drug abuse.[7]

Plans on preventing substance abuse[edit]

Family based prevention programs[edit]

Prevention programs can strengthen protective factors among young children by teaching parents better family communication skills, appropriate discipline styles, firm and consistent rule enforcement, and other family management approaches. Research confirms the benefits of parents providing consistent rules and discipline, talking to children about drugs, monitoring their activities, getting to know their friends, understanding their problems and concerns, and being involved in their learning. The importance of the parent-child relationship continues through adolescence and beyond.[8]

Smit, Verdurmen, Monshouwer, and Smil conducted research analysis to measure the effectiveness of family interventions about teen and adolescence drug and alcohol use. According to their data alcohol and drug use is very common in Western societies. For example 18% of the 12-14 year old in US were binge drinking. Binge drinking means having five drinks at once. This is an excessive alcohol consumption and each drink constitutes 10 mg. ethanol. Another data about being drunk among teenagers is high in percentages in US and Northern Europe. According to quantities in 2006, 73% of 16 year old US students were reported having used alcohol. In Northern Europe this is 90%. Even they start drinking at age 12, average.These high percentages require immediate solutions to alcohol use and substance abuse. Because this may have negative effects on young people's brain development later in their life and may cause serious health issues related to early use of alcohol and other substances.[9]

School-based prevention programs[edit]

US Navy 061117-N-8132M-023 Master-at-Arms 1st Class Michael Turner of Mobile Security Squadron Two (MSS-2) collects information at the Substance Abuse Prevention Summit
Drama based education to motivate participation in substance abuse prevention. (media from BioMed Central)

There are a number of community-based prevention programs and classes that aim to educate children and families about the harms of substance abuse. Schools began introducing substance abuse oriented classes for their students in grades as low as pre-school. The inclusion of prevention studies into classroom curriculums at a young age have been shown to help to break early behaviors that could be signs drug abuse in the future. Around 40% of children have tried alcohol by the time that they are ten. Though they are no records of children abusing substances at a much younger age, there have been incidents where kids around the age of five or six who have tasted alcohol, smoked cigarettes, or have consumed drugs that were not prescribed. Children begin to willingly take drugs at a later age, with polls showing most have been peered pressured into consuming substances.[10] One example is an organization in New Hampshire called New Futures that educates, advocates, and collaborates to reduce drug and alcohol problems in the state. There are mediating factors of classroom-based substance abuse that have been analyzed through research. There are specific conclusions that have been generated about effective programs. First, programs that allow the students to be interactive and learn skills such as how to refuse drugs are more effective than strictly educational or non-interactive ones. When direct influences (e.g., peers) and indirect influences (e.g., media influence) are addressed the program is better able to cover broad social influences that most programs do not consider. Programs that encourage a social commitment to abstaining from drugs show lower rates of drug use. Getting the community outside of the school to participate and also using peer leaders to facilitate the interactions tend to be an effective facet of these programs. Lastly, teaching youth and adolescents skills that increase resistance skills in social situations may increase protective factors in that population.[11]

Scientists designed a community and adolescent based plot prevention program in Phoenix area. They aimed to reach non-acedemia people and middle school teenagers specifically. This program is called Drug Resistance Strategies Project, DRS. The designers of the program meant to challenge their formal research means and practiced narrative strategie. According to this method, students interviewed with other students asking "Who, what, where, when, and how." The goal was to disclose the reasons underneath the drug and alcohol use and eventually persuade the adolescents to be able to say no to drug or alcohol offer without putting in danger his or her relationship with own friends. The collected data was organized and transformed to narratives and later on they were staged. The main characters of this process were young teenagers since DRS organizers thought that it could be easier to reach the students without adult presence. The outcome of the program was a big success. After sisxteen months of trial, the researchers three posttests to check the changes in pretesets. The data showed that the program was influential to reduce alcohol and marijuna use particularly. In a short time DRS was practiced across USA. SAMSHA (The Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) chose DRS as a "model program." Additionally, DRS was selected to be used in as a clinical trial in 35 middle schools. Furthermore, the designers of DRS started to disseminate their sources by website.[12]

Life Skills Training (LST) was developed by Gilbert J. Botvin in 1996 and revised in 2000, and again in 2013. LST is significant in giving adolescents with skills and information that are needed to resist social influences to substances, including alcohol, cigarettes, and other illicit drugs.The goal of this program is to increase personal and social competence, confidence and self-efficacy to reduce motivations to use drugs and be involved in harmful social environments. LST was structured to provide adolescents knowledge for fifteen 45-minute class periods during school for the first year. Ten booster sessions are given in the second year and then five booster class periods in the third year. The original outcome data was taken from a controlled trial of mostly white seventh grade students from various schools. A significant reduction in drug and polydrug use was found within this population with long-term effects even after three years. LST has been modified to be beneficial for minority students as well.[13]

Project ALERT is a middle school based prevention program for 7th and 8th graders. The program is used to prevent adolescent non users from experimenting with drugs. It also helps to prevent adolescent experimenters from becoming regular drug users.[14] The lesson includes educational handouts, lesson plans, phone support, downloadable resources, and posters that were designed to motivate seventh and eighth grade students to not use alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana. This program's goal is to give students motivation to resist engaging in drug use by giving them assertiveness tools. Two evaluations of Project ALERT, first in the 1980s and then in 2003, showed that there were significantly positive. [15]

Community programs outside of school settings that aim to prevent alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drug use have insufficient evidence that would show their effectiveness. Many of the community programs for those under age 25 are only linked to one randomized controlled trials which in most cases is not enough to conclude that they are effective. Focus of most community-based programs is on changing community policies and norms such as stricter policies on underage access to and consumption of alcohol. [16]

Community preventing programs[edit]

Community members can help prevent substance abuse within their neighborhood. There are four steps that can be done to help with drug abuse:

  1. Identify the drug and those who are involved. The community should assess the risk level and the seriousness of the problem
  2. Build with other resources within the community.
  3. Develop short-term goals that the individual can achieve.
  4. Project long-term goals so that resources can be available in the future for them.[17]

Prevention programs work at the community level with civic, religious, law enforcement, and other government organizations to enhance anti-drug norms and pro-social behaviors. Many programs coordinate prevention efforts across settings to communicate consistent messages through school, work, religious institutions, and the media. Research has shown that programs that reach youth through multiple settings can strongly impact community norms.Community-based programs also typically include development of policies or enforcement of regulations, mass media efforts, and community-wide awareness programs.[18]

National recognition of substance abuse prevention[edit]

In 2011 President Obama issued October as National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. It pays tribute to all people working hard to prevent abuse in communities and working hard to make a safer drug-free country. [19]

Millions of Americans currently participate in Red Ribbon Week activities, according to the National Family Partnership (NFP)—the Red Ribbon campaign’s national organizer. The Drug Enforcement Administration, a Federal partner in Red Ribbon Week, describes it as “the most far-reaching and well-known drug prevention event in America.” Through the efforts of the NFP, other national organizations, Federal and State agencies, and communities, Red Ribbon Week has become more than a call to action. It has grown to be a unifying symbol of family and community dedication to preventing the use of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs among youth.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Drug Prevention". 
  2. ^ "Substance Abuse Prevention". 
  3. ^ "What are risk factors and protective factors? | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)". Retrieved 2013-12-10. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Johnston, L.D.; O’Malley, P.M.; Bachman, J.G.; and Schulenberg, J.E. Monitoring the Future National Results on Adolescent Drug Use: Overview of Key Findings, 2013. Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2013.
  6. ^ "Preventing Drug Use among Children and Adolescents". 
  7. ^ National Institute on Drug Abuse (2003). Preventing Drug Abuse Among Children and Adolescents: A Research Based Guide for Parents, Educators, and Community Leaders [Second Edition]. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 27 April 2010. 
  8. ^ National Institute of Drug Abuse. "Preventing Drug Use among Children and Adolescents". Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  9. ^ Smit, Verdurmen, Monshouwer, Smil, Evelien, Jacqueline, Karin, Filip (2008). "Family interventions and their effect on adolescent alcohol use in general populations; a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials". Drug and Alcohol dependence 97: 195-206. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2008.03.032. 
  10. ^ Substance Abuse Prevention with Preschool Children Ellen Hahn and Kathy Papazian Journal of Community Health Nursing, Vol. 4, No. 3 (1987), pp. 165-170 Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. Article Stable URL:
  11. ^ O'Connell, M.E., Boat, T., Warner, K.E. (2009). Preventing Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Disorders Among Young People: Progress and Possibilities. Committee on the Prevention of Mental Disorders and Substance Abuse Among Children, Youth and Young Adults: Research Advances and Promising Interventions. Institute of Medicine; National Research Council. Retrieved 2 February 2010. 
  12. ^ Miller-Day, Hecht, Michelle, Michael L. (2007). "The Drug Resistance Strategies Project as Translational Research". Journal of Applied Communication Research 35 (3). doi:10.1080/00909880701611086. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  13. ^ O'Connell, M.E., Boat, T., Warner, K.E. (2009). Preventing Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Disorders Among Young People: Progress and Possibilities. Committee on the Prevention of Mental Disorders and Substance Abuse Among Children, Youth and Young Adults: Research Advances and Promising Interventions. Institute of Medicine; National Research Council. p. 200. Retrieved 2 February 2010. 
  14. ^ "Project ALERT". 
  15. ^ "Project ALERT". 
  16. ^ O'Connell, M.E., Boat, T., Warner, K.E. (2009). Preventing Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Disorders Among Young People: Progress and Possibilities. Committee on the Prevention of Mental Disorders and Substance Abuse Among Children, Youth and Young Adults: Research Advances and Promising Interventions. Institute of Medicine; National Research Council. p. 221. Retrieved 2 February 2010. 
  17. ^ "How can the community develop a plan for research-based prevention?". 
  18. ^ National Institute of Drug Abuse. "Preventing Drug Use among Children and Adolescents". Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  19. ^ "October 2014 is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month". 
  20. ^ U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (2010). "Focus On Prevention" (HHS Publication No. (SMA) 10–4120 Revision 2010). p. 1. Retrieved 6 October 2014. 

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