Prevention programs target different populations at risk for substance use disorders. 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 use disorder prevention and early intervention programs focus on children and adolescents, given that substance misuse early in life increases the chance an individual will develop a substance use disorder. 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 misuse among children and adolescents. These prevention programs 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 use disorders.
- Selective preventive interventions target subgroups of the population that at risk for substance use disorders.
- Indicated preventive interventions are aimed at individuals who are exhibiting early signs of having a substance use disorder issue, though they have not been diagnosed.
Providers, schools, public health departments, and other organizations in the community may collaborate to implement these programs.