Substance abuse prevention attempts to deal with the problem of substance abuse before it happens. That is we hope to prevent the onset of addiction and misuse of substances that have true medical value but have high abuse risk. Limiting the development of substance abuse is done by focusing on the individual, his or her conditioning, her knowledge of the topic, and her environment and environmental factors. Substance abuse prevention begins in the community by delimiting the ease of access and availability of substances as a whole.
Regulating the access of substances is a great start, but the individual must be educated as well. It is best to begin by focusing on minors. Teenagers and children are both impressionable, so managing their impression of substances can affect their risk of substance abuse greatly. Placing emphasis on gateway drugs is important as they lead to the use of harder chemicals.
Substance Abuse Prevention – Factors Placing Us At Risk
There are many factors that place someone at risk of substance abuse. This has been corroborated by rigourous research. Decreasing these factors decreases the probability of substance abuse later. Substance abuse prevention starts with being aware of the risk factors. These include environmental factors such as preventables at home including child abuse, lack of supervision, exposure and a positive drug culture in the home, media influence, and social factors such as peer pressure. Other factors include the child’s internal worldview, such as his or her self-esteem, attitudes about substances, poor social skills including learning how to say no. There are genetic and brain factors as well, including neurotransmitter levels and brain regions shared with addiction. Helping these children before being exposed to transitional periods in life is a large help. If a child is experiencing a parental divorce, a move, puberty, and other life changes, he or she is at an increased risk for substance abuse. Substance abuse prevention is a key and integral part of decreasing the chance of substance abuse at these times. Protective factors include being knowledgeable about the topic. Programs such as D.A.R.E. are invaluable in this regard. Other protective factors are positive family relations, social bonds, parental monitoring of the child’s activites and social circle, and clear, dilineated boundaries and consequences. The greatest is probably high self-esteem. In addition to D.A.R.E., a substance abuse counselor should be aware of other community and school based substance abuse prevention programs like Life Skills Training (L.S.T.), Project ALERT, and Reach Out. Despite these programs, there should be a familial, religious or spiritual, and social program in place. Family, friends, and community leaders should be involved constantly with the youth they encounter in this regards, setting positive models and negating positive views of substances.
Substance Abuse Prevention – Other Methods
In addition to using substance abuse prevention before substance use occurs at all, there are always methods such as interventions that should occur before use develops into abuse and addiction. Boarding schools, residential treatment centers, group and individual therapies, outpatient treatment, recovery groups, and more are available as substance abuse prevention. The community is moving towards full support for substance abuse prevention. Let us all get on board and further this movement.