Preventing Drug Use Among Children and Adolescents: Examples of Prevention Programs

Preventing drug use among children and adolescents is a critical issue that requires a comprehensive approach. There are a multitude of effective substance abuse prevention interventions that can be implemented in a variety of settings, such as the classroom, family-school associations, and community-based programs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has identified 16 key principles for prevention programs based on risk and protective factors, program type, and program implementation. Early intervention is essential to prevent substance abuse among young people.

Data suggests that substance abuse patterns worsen in high school years, so it is important to intervene before then. Mentoring is also an effective strategy to prevent and reduce substance use and its associated risks among youth. The Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, a division of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, provides national leadership in the federal effort to prevent problems with alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. The National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP) is a searchable online registry of more than 200 interventions that support mental health promotion, substance abuse prevention, and mental health and drug abuse treatment.

The Avoiding Unsafe Drinking on Campus booklet illustrates binge drinking statistics among college-age youth to inform universities and communities. Building partnerships with organizations can help provide in-kind support for underage alcohol prevention activities. Early leadership can help young people develop interpersonal and decision-making skills that support success in the workforce and into adulthood. Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) is the most widely used prevention program in the United States.

Other prevention programs include Here's Looking at You, Project STAR, Life Skills Training, and PRIDE.