Prevention programs target different populations at risk for substance abuse. Prevention programs focus on helping individuals to develop knowledge and skills, or changing environmental and community factors that affect a large population. Programs can be implemented in settings such as schools, workplaces, and communities.
Many substance abuse prevention and early intervention programs focus on children and adolescents, given that substance abuse early in life increases the chance an individual will develop a substance abuse issue. The National Institute on Drug Abuse developed the Preventing Drug Use among Children and Adolescents (In Brief), which describes approaches that communities can implement to prevent drug abuse in children and adolescents. These prevention programs have key principles and focus on strengthening protective factors and reducing risk factors.
Prevention efforts are divided into three categories: universal, selective, and indicated:
- Universal preventive interventions reach an entire population to prevent substance abuse.
- Selective preventive interventions target subgroups of the population that at risk for substance abuse.
- Indicated preventive interventions are aimed at individuals who are exhibiting early signs of having a substance abuse issue, though they have not been diagnosed.
Providers, schools, public health departments, and other organizations in the community may collaborate to implement these programs.