What Is Prevention?

The Short Answer:

Prevention is about helping people (often young people) to change personal, social or environmental factors to delay or avoid the onset of drug misuse and its progression to harmful or problematic misuse.

It’s also about increasing resources within a community so that individuals are more likely to make healthy choices and avoid the potential harm that drug use can cause.

But Wait, There’s More….

We can’t talk about prevention without talking about HOW drug and alcohol abuse begins in the first place.

Scientists, scholars and lay-people have been pondering this question for at least the last 100 years and continue to have myriad different theories. For example, in the past it was believed that addiction was a character flaw, or that drug and alcohol addiction only happened to “those kinds of people.” We now know that it’s much more complicated. And science is now telling us that one thing is certain: addiction thrives when people and communities don’t.

Alcohol and drug abuse can happen to ANYONE, but the more risk vs protective factors someone has, the more likely that they’ll struggle with ATOD abuse. That’s why prevention is not just about saying no or limiting access to drugs and alcohol (though these strategies can be used too!) but about increasing protective factors and decreasing risk. Read more about risk versus protective factors here.