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Drug Prevention Program

A drug prevention program should enhance protective factors and reverse or reduce risk factors of drug use. The risk of becoming a drug abuser involves the relationship among the number and type of risk factors (e.g., deviant attitudes and behaviors) and protective factors (e.g., parental support). The potential impact of specific risk and protective factors changes with age. For example, risk factors within the family have greater impact on a younger child, while association with drug-abusing peers may be a more significant risk factor for an adolescent.

Early intervention with risk factors (e.g., aggressive behavior and poor self-control) often has a greater impact than later intervention by changing a child's life path (trajectory) away from problems and toward positive behaviors. While risk and protective factors can affect people of all groups, these factors can have a different effect depending on a person's age, gender, ethnicity, culture, and environment. A drug prevention program should address all forms of drug abuse, alone or in combination, including the underage use of legal drugs (e.g., tobacco or alcohol); the use of illegal drugs (e.g., marijuana or heroin); and the inappropriate use of legally obtained substances (e.g., inhalants), prescription medications, or over-the-counter drugs.

A drug prevention program should address the type of drug abuse problem in the local community, target modifiable risk factors, and strengthen identified protective factors. The drug prevention program should be tailored to address risks specific to population or audience characteristics, such as age, gender, and ethnicity, to improve program effectiveness.

An effective drug prevention program is one that reduces the prevalence of use of and/or problems with alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Good intentions are not enough. A program isn't a "prevention program" unless the program actually prevents something. Quality drug prevention programs result in statistically significant reductions in the expected prevalence of use and/or problems, and are able to document their positive impact with rigorous evaluation data. Prevention efforts are more effective when proven strategies are used with the audiences for which those strategies are best suited.

In an effort to improve the effectiveness of drug abuse prevention efforts by more precisely targeting prevention messages to specific audiences, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention have adopted a new system of identifying different levels of prevention needs and prevention approaches, based upon the audience's likelihood of developing alcohol and other drug use problems.

Another form of a drug prevention program is a community coalition. Community coalitions bring groups together to solve local problems. What exactly is a community coalition? A community coalition is an alliance of local groups who share a desire to create positive change in their community. Such groups band together to solve a problem and make their community a safer, healthier, and happier place for all to live. There are thousands of coalitions across the country working to improve the quality of life in their communities.

What kinds of problems do community coalitions work on? Community change usually starts with a meeting of the minds. When people come together, real community improvements can be achieved. Everyone who wants to improve a situation gets together and commits to a shared mission, a set of goals, and an action plan. Here is a sampling of some of the initiatives currently in progress in various cities around the country:

  • After school education programs
  • Adult/youth mentoring programs
  • Neighborhood watch programs in collaboration with law enforcement agencies
  • Prevention of underage access to alcohol and tobacco
  • Creation of safe and drug-free youth centers
  • Collaboration with businesses to create drug-free workplaces and responsible beverage service programs to reduce drunk driving incidents
  • Parenting education programs
  • Development of youth-led neighborhood improvement programs
  • Drug-related crime prevention programs

A drug prevention program called Academy for Educational Development (AED) is working with the president's Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Partnership for a Drug-Free America on a prevention campaign in the prevention of drug abuse. This program targets young people ages 9 to 18, their parents, and other adults. AED's role includes helping to:

  • mobilize and engage existing drug-prevention organizations, as well as workplace, business, labor, and civic groups
  • produce a series of outreach kits to so that local communities, workplaces, and schools use the campaign's drug prevention program educational materials most effectively
  • oversee awareness activities, such as inserts in USA Today and special events

-Information gathered from: Academy for Educational Development, NIDA, Office of National Drug Control Policy, Indiana Prevention Resource Center

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