Substance Abuse Prevention Programs
People who work to prevent the use of various substances rather than taking a responsive stance and attempting to fix problems after the fact are often involved with various types of substance abuse prevention programs. These programs are aimed at helping to reduce the use of drugs or alcohol in those who are already using while also providing education and guidance to non-users in an effort to prevent future substance use. Every community has different substance abuse prevention programs, as do schools, hospitals, employers and individual treatment centers. Each of the substance abuse prevention programs that are offered in a community work to facilitate education, information, guidance and support in an effort to stop substance abuse in its tracks.
While there are a variety of formats in which substance abuse prevention programs can be delivered, such as family counseling, educational programs and court ordered treatment, each prevention program generally falls into one of three categories:
- Universal Prevention Programs – these programs are geared toward the general population and are often found in schools, such as DARE which is provided to ALL of the students of a particular school or a program that is provided to ALL of the parents of a particular high school.
- Selective Prevention Programs – these programs are geared toward a targeted group of people, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters which targets at risk youth or a program that would target specifically students who have low grades.
- Indicated Prevention Programs – these programs are geared towards individuals who show a particular sign or signs that they are at risk for future substance abuse or that they are already abusing substances. Such programs target the individual with programs that are specific to their individual or perceived needs.
With each of these types of substance abuse prevention programs, the goal is to foster the understanding that substance use is unsafe in many cases, alcohol use is only acceptable when it occurs in safe circumstances by an adult and at moderate levels, and that certain substances can be extremely deadly if they are abused in any manner. These programs are aimed at helping to inform student bodies, youth, teens, adults, pregnant women and others who are at risk for the potential devastation and complications which can arise as a result of substance use.
According to Crime Solutions, “substance abuse prevention and education programs aim to prevent individuals, particularly juveniles, from the harmful physical, social and psychological consequences of drug and alcohol use or abuse.” Educational programs such as DARE, Family Matters and LifeSkills Training all provide education to juveniles to assist them in better understanding substance use and abuse, the risks associated with using drugs or alcohol, and the potential consequences that can come from drug or alcohol use. Studies have found that education can go a long way in preventing the dangerous use of various substances and it can also help to reduce overdose and death rates associated with such use.
Prevention programs such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, offered in various communities, focus on providing adolescent mentoring to aid in the reduction of substance use while instilling a sense of camaraderie for children and teens who are adversely affected by the substance use of their parents or loved ones. These programs cover various topics related to substance use, crime and juvenile topics such as friendships, sports and education to provide kids with the support and understanding that they need to make better decisions, to feel supported by someone who cares and to avoid adverse behaviors that could lead to serious consequences.
Programs for Families
Too Smart to Start is just one of many substance abuse prevention programs that is aimed at helping families to recognize and prevent underage drinking. Various other programs such as the Family Spirit study which provides parenting knowledge and skills guidelines in helping to reduce substance abuse in the home can be found in hospitals, at treatment centers, an in community centers throughout the country. Individual substance abuse prevention programs for families are often provided on a case-by-case basis with referral from a treatment specialist or counselor. Such programs are also sometimes court ordered when families are in “trouble” legally or when a child has been removed from the home as a result of substance abuse. Often times, the Department of Child Welfare Services will intervene and recommend substance abuse prevention programs for families in need; these are just some of the types of services that can be expected.
Programs for Employers
According to SAMHSA, the Drug-Free Workplace Programs provide information and details regarding substance abuse, prevention, and comprehensive wellness programs for employers. These substance abuse prevention programs focus on helping employees to recognize and accept the importance of remaining substance free while working and provide various education, support and guidance techniques to employers to help them build a strong, substance free workforce. This division also offers assistance to employers in the areas of drug testing and in following adequate privacy guidelines for both employee and employer safety.
Programs for Pregnant Women
Substance abuse prevention programs are sometimes geared to pregnant women in an effort to prevent babies from being born prematurely or from being born addicted to a substance that the mother was using during pregnancy. According to the National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center, “although women who abuse substances do not necessarily need women-only services, treatment should focus on circumstances and issues that are specific to women.” As such, many different programs are available to assist women in overcoming instances of substance abuse while they are pregnant. These include:
- Residential treatment programs
- Outpatient treatment programs
- Support groups
Drug courts, that are mandated by the state or county in which an individual has been arrested for a drug related charge, do their part to prevent substance abuse too. These programs employ various treatment models to monitoring and supervision, risk assessment, treatment and rehabilitation. Often times, drug courts are responsible for helping families to overcome substance abuse and get back together following the removal of children from a home where substance use is a problem. Other times, juvenile drug courts may interfere with a situation in which a child or teen is abusing drugs; this type of program will focus on providing family counseling and education, intervention and treatment that will aid in the restoration of stability while promoting accountability for the individuals who are involved with the drug use, according to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service.
In the event that an individual is already using drugs regularly, an intervention program may come into play. According to the King County Department of Community and Human Services, “the goal of intervention is to reduce the risk of harm and decrease problem behaviors that result from continued use of substances.” Intervention programs respond to risk factors, offer ongoing services and help patients to recognize and reduce the consequences associated with substance use and abuse. An intervention program may include:
- Assessment and screening
- Referral for information or educational guidance
- Treatment referrals
- Referral for detox
- Referral for various community outreach services such as job placement or placement into one of the above mentioned substance abuse prevention programs
- Case management
- Follow-up care