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Drug Abuse Prevention

"Pre-teens and teenagers have tough choices to make. We, as parents and concerned community members, can play a key role by setting a good example for them. We must educate our children about alcohol and other drugs. We must do our best to help our children develop the necessary skills so that they can cope with life without depending on drugs and alcohol. We know that a drug and alcohol problem can touch any family, none of us is immune…" Parent Action on Drugs 4th ed.

Research shows that investing in youth assets promotes positive behaviors, like leadership and success in school. The more assets young people have, the more likely they are to make positive choices and avoid high-risk behaviors. The skills and education a young person receives helps in drug abuse prevention. Youth assets are defined as opportunities, skills, values and relationships that young people need to become caring, capable and contributing adults.

How can we help in drug abuse prevention?

  • ask young people for their opinions and involve them in decisions
  • provide rules and structure, with opportunities for dependence
  • involve young people in their community, where they can learn new skills, meet caring adults and take on leadership roles
  • teach young people how to get along with others, how to negotiate relationships and how to manage stress and conflict
    -Halton Region Health Department

Although recent reports show a leveling or decrease in drug use among our nation's youth, drug abuse remains a problem in our country. There were 14.8 million current users of illicit drugs in 1999. This figure represents 6.7 percent of the population ages 12 years and older. The 1999 National Household Survey also found increases in illicit drug use among adults' ages 18-25. Although the rates for those 26-34 years old and 35 years and older have not changed significantly since 1994, overall statistics indicate that there is still work to be done in preventing substance abuse.

Drug abuse prevention today must produce tangible results. State and federal agencies, local governments, and private foundations are interested in funding programs with measurable outcomes. The new emphasis on performance means that prevention practitioners must show that the programs they propose achieve the results predicted. The drug abuse prevention field now has an empirical knowledge base to assist practitioners in selecting proven approaches for their programs. Using scientifically defensible principles will help practitioners respond to demands for accountability and will simultaneously ensure that program participants receive the most effective services available.

Drug abuse is a complex problem that develops in response to multiple influences. These spheres of activity include the individual, family, peers, school, community, and society/environment. Characteristics and conditions that exist within each of these areas of activity also function as risk or protective factors that help propel individuals to or safeguard them from drug abuse. As such, each of these areas presents an opportunity for preventive action.
-Center for Substance Abuse Prevention

Today's youth face many risks, including drug abuse, violence, and HIV/AIDS. Responding to these risks before they become problems can be difficult. One of the goals of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is to help the public understand the causes of drug abuse and to prevent its onset. Drug abuse has serious consequences in our homes, schools, and communities. From NIDA's perspective, the use of all illicit drugs and the inappropriate use of licit drugs are considered drug abuse.

Parental monitoring and supervision are critical for drug abuse prevention. These skills can be enhanced with training on rule-setting; techniques for monitoring activities; praise for appropriate behavior; and moderate, consistent discipline that enforces defined family rules. Drug education and information for parents or caregivers reinforces what children are learning about the harmful effects of drugs and opens opportunities for family discussions about the abuse of legal and illegal substances.

Drug abuse prevention can be designed to intervene as early as preschool to address risk factors for drug abuse, such as aggressive behavior, poor social skills, and academic difficulties.
-National Institute on Drug Abuse

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