Special Topics & Resources

Alcohol and drug use disorder prevention

Prevention

Policies, programs and practices that aim to prevent or avoid the harms associated with the use of alcohol or other drugs.

Prevention activities and services are offered in a large variety of settings, from inside school classrooms, to pediatrician offices, to within recreational centers and larger community settings. The format for prevention activities and services can range from one-on-one to large groups. Addiction prevention programs encourage individuals to refrain from substance use, and work to help individuals avoid harm and injury from alcohol and other drugs, hopefully preventing the development of substance use disorder and substance-related injuries and harms.

The Institute of Medicine and National Research Council report the cost-benefit ratio for early intervention and prevention programs for addictions and mental illness programs to be from about 1:2 to 1:10.

TYPES OF EVIDENCE-BASED PREVENTION PROGRAMS:

Universal Programs: address risk and protective factors common to all in a given setting, such as school or community

Selective Programs: target high-risk groups

Indicated Programs: designed for those who have already begun using drugs

 

INTERSECTION OF PREVENTION & HARM REDUCTION

Harm reduction and addiction prevention efforts

While prevention and harm reduction have common goals of creating a healthy community of thriving individuals and prevention of injury and death, most harm reduction strategies are outside the purview of addiction prevention.

 

FACTORS THAT AFFECT SUBSTANCE USE DISORDER DEVELOPMENT

RISK FACTORS

GENETIC VULNERABILITY

Genes account for 40-60% of the risk for addiction development.

PHYSIOLOGICAL VULNERABILITY

Variations in biological metabolic processes (e.g. enzymes in women’s stomach’s are slower to brake down alcohol).

GENDER

Males are more likely than females to develop a substance use disorder, but women generally develop substance use disorder faster and incur more harm at the same levels of use.

PERSONALITY TRAITS

Personality traits such as high impulsivity, aggression, or sensation seeking put an individual at greater risk.

CO-OCCURING DISORDERS

The prevalence of other mental health disorders, such as major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

FAMILY FACTORS
  • Having a parent or sibling that has a substance use disorder
  • Lack of family involvement, parental supervision, or support
  • Poor quality of the child-parent relationship
  • Family disruptions such as divorce, acute or chronic stress
  • Social isolation
  • Abuse (e.g. sexual, physical, emotional)
PEER FACTORS
  • Substance use among peers and time spent with substance-using peers
  • Poor social skills
ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS
  • Availability and accessibility of a substance (e.g. number of liquor stores in the neighborhood)
  • Community drug use patterns (e.g. use by neighbors)
  • Low socioeconomic status or community poverty
  • Social & legal policies such as taxes, purchase or use restrictions, enforcement, legal status, penalties, school anti-drug policies
  • Media influence such as the frequency of exposure and nature of the representation of alcohol and other drugs
AGE AT FIRST USE

Beginning substance use early puts one at greater risk for substance use disorder development.

PROTECTIVE FACTORS

FAMILY FACTORS
  • Positive mutual attachment between parent and child
  • A parent’s drug use can be offset by the non-use of the other parent
  • Marriage
  • Child-rearing responsibilities
PEER FACTORS
  • Positive group norms
  • Positive relationships
OTHER
  • Neighborhood pride
  • Religiosity
  • Employment
  • Academic competence

DEMAND VS. SUPPLY

DEMAND-SIDE PREVENTION

Prevention activities can be broken down into two categories: Supply side prevention methods and demand side prevention methods. Demand side prevention seeks to limit consumer demand for alcohol and other drugs, addressing factors such as desirability, cultural stigma attached to individual substance or substance use, legal status, and cost.

Examples of demand-side prevention:

 

SUPPLY-SIDE PREVENTION

Prevention activities can be broken down into two categories: Supply side prevention methods and demand side prevention methods. Supply side prevention seeks to decrease alcohol and drug use by limiting the supply of available alcohol and other drugs, regulating factors such as availability, accessibility, legal status, and price. Historically, criminal justice involvement and policies in the “War on Drugs,” primarily focuses on targeting supply.

Examples of supply-side prevention:

 

SOURCE: Recovery Research Institute


WHAT IS AN EFFECTIVE PREVENTION PROGRAM?

The most effective prevention programs work to boost protective factors and eliminate or reduce risk factors for alcohol and other drug use.

Prevention programs vary in focus depending on target audience:

 

 

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