Elements of Effective Prevention Programs
There is a multitude of effective substance abuse prevention interventions that may have different areas of focus and can be implemented in a variety of settings. Interventions can involve the family, school, and community and may provide substance abuse prevention for an individual or a population of youth by focusing on environmental and community factors and policies, developmental factors, or skill development. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has identified 16 key principles for prevention programs based on risk and protective factors, the type of program, and the delivery of the program.
Core Components of Evidence-based Prevention Programs
Structure, content, and delivery are the core elements of effective research-based programs that NIDA suggests can help to address the key principles, and should be considered when determining what kind of prevention program is best for individuals and your community.1
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Structure refers to the following elements of a prevention program:
The specific content of prevention programs varies, but is designed to reduce risk factors and strengthen protective factors. The elements of a program's content should include the following:
The delivery of a prevention program includes the following elements:
Prevention programs have proven to be effective, but families and influential adults continue to play the most important role in determining how youth handle the lure of alcohol, cigarettes, misuse of prescription drugs, and illegal drugs. More recent studies have shown that parents and guardians (and adults influential in a youth’s life) who speak to their children about the issues and have dinner with them on a regular basis, have children with a lower rate of use and abuse.2 Prevention programs can help to support family/mentoring relationships by providing parenting/mentoring skills and communication strategies.3
Intervening early—before high school—is critical. The data suggests that patterns of substance abuse become worse in the high school years. Individuals who begin using alcohol or tobacco when they are very young are more likely to abuse them later in life, when it becomes much more difficult to quit.
National Institute on Drug Abuse
A division of the National Institutes of Health, NIDA’s mission is to lead the nation in bringing the power of science to bear on drug abuse and addiction.
Center for Substance Abuse Prevention
The Center, a division of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, provides national leadership in the federal effort to prevent alcohol, tobacco, and other drug problems.
National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP)
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration supports NREPP, a searchable online registry of more than 200 interventions supporting mental health promotion, substance abuse prevention, and mental health and substance abuse treatment. NREPP connects members of the public to intervention developers so they can learn how to implement these approaches in their communities.
FindYouthInfo.gov Program Directory
The program directory provides up-to-date information for effective programs that address risk and protective factors related to substance abuse. All programs included in the program directory have been rigorously reviewed based on their conceptual framework, if the program was implemented as intended, how it was evaluated, and the findings of the evaluations. The directory also includes youth-focused programs from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP), another online registry of mental health and substance abuse interventions.
1 Robertson, David, & Rao, 2003
2 QEV Analytics, Ltd, Knowledge Networks, 2010
3 Robertson, David, & Rao, 2003
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