Substance abuse prevention
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's 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.
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, methamphetamine, steroids, club drugs (such as MDMA), and opioids.
Protective and risk factors
Environmental and internal are two main factors that contribute to the likelihood of substance abuse. Environmental factors in the individual's adolescence include: child abuse, exposure to drugs, lack of supervision, media influence, and peer pressure. Drug activity in an individual's community may normalize the usage of drugs. Similarly, if an individual is placed through treatment and then placed back into the same environment that they left, there is a great chance that person will relapse to their previous behavior. Internal factors that are within the child or personality-based are self-esteem, poor social skills, stress, attitudes about drugs, mental disorder and many others. 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.
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” (Johnston et al., 2013). Binge drinking has also, been shown to increase once an individual leaves the home to attend college or live on their own.
Most youth do not progress towards abusing other drugs after experimentation. Research has shown, when drug use begins at an early age, there is a 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. Most young adults have a false perception that they may be invincible. These individuals believe changes won't be made until an extreme event happens i.e. a friend overdoses, a car accident or even death. Even then it is not likely that they will see the correlation between use and trauma.
Plans on preventing substance abuse
Family based prevention programs
"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" (National Institute of Drug Abuse, 2003).
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 young adults between the ages of 12-14 year old in US have indulged in binge drinking. According to quantities in 2006, 73% of 16-year-old US students were reported having used alcohol; In Northern Europe this is 90%. Since early use of alcohol and other substances may cause serious health, immediate solutions to these problem are required .
School-based prevention programs
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 preschool. 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.
There are organizations that educates, advocates, and collaborates to reduce drug and alcohol problems in the state. Some programs may begin by allowing students to be interactive and learn skills such as how to refuse drugs. This is proven to be a more effective method 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.
Community prevention programs
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 help with prevention efforts across settings to help send messages through school, work, religious institutions, and the media. Research has shown that programs that reach youth through multiple settings can remarkably influence community norms. Community-based programs also typically include development of policies or enforcement of regulations, mass media efforts, and community-wide awareness programs.
National recognition of substance abuse prevention
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. 
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.
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- 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.
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- 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.
- National Institute of Drug Abuse. "Preventing Drug Use among Children and Adolescents". www.drugabuse.gov/. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
- "October 2014 is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month".
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Substance abuse.|
- Hot Topic: Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention - Service-learning-related substance abuse prevention information at Learn and Serve America's National Service-Learning Clearinghouse
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration official website
- National Institute on Drug Abuse: "NIDA for Teens".