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In October, we observe Youth Substance Use Prevention Month and Substance Misuse Prevention Month. As we kick off Prevention Month, let’s take a second to have a good time all that we’ve achieved collectively, in addition to recommit ourselves to the essential work that lies forward. Everybody has a job to play in prevention.

Prevention of Substance Misuse ― The place We Are and What Lies Forward

The substance use panorama continues to evolve with the continued unfold of extremely potent artificial opioids (like illicit fentanyl) in counterfeit tablets and the re-emergence of stimulants like methamphetamine. On the similar time, we see altering state insurance policies associated to alcohol, marijuana, and hallucinogens. Vaping and tobacco merchandise stay readily accessible to younger individuals in lots of communities. And we proceed to study concerning the perils and potentials of social media. All of that is taking place towards the backdrop of rising psychological well being challenges, particularly amongst younger individuals, which can be inextricably linked to substance use.

In reality, substance use has by no means been riskier, whether or not it’s somebody’s first time utilizing, or a long-standing substance use dysfunction. The chance of overdose1,2 is now elevated with any use of a bootleg drug, given the efficiency, lethality, and unpredictability of fentanyl and different components (similar to xylazine) within the illicit drug provide.

What stays fixed is prevention science ― and the many years of community-based expertise and scientific analysis that reveals prevention works.

And whereas we face many challenges, we’re seeing development. We should always have a good time and construct on this progress.

  • Alcohol use amongst youth has fallen considerably for the reason that Seventies and Eighties, and has typically trended downward over the previous few many years. Alcohol stays essentially the most extensively used substance amongst youth, adopted by marijuana and nicotine merchandise (together with e-cigarettes and different vaping gadgets).
  • Lengthy-term information (from the Youth Threat Habits Survey and Monitoring the Future examine) additionally present declines in substance use amongst youth for many substances over the previous decade.
  • The 2021 Nationwide Survey on Drug Use and Well being reveals that the majority youth (aged 12-17 years) have by no means used alcohol, nicotine, or illicit medication of their lifetime.
    • 77.1 % have by no means used alcohol.
    • 83.5 % have by no means used nicotine merchandise (tobacco or nicotine vaping).
    • 78.7 % have by no means used illicit medication (together with marijuana or misuse of prescription drugs).

Analysis reveals that the sooner substance use begins, the extra probably it should develop right into a substance use dysfunction.3, 4, 5 That’s the reason it’s so important that we work early with youth, to forestall preliminary use in addition to delay the onset of use.

Prevention isn’t restricted to youth. Prevention additionally focuses on adults, the place we work to forestall or intervene with grownup misuse with a view to stop and scale back the well being and social harms of substance use, in addition to the development to substance use dysfunction.

Importantly, we all know that substance use has no single trigger and that’s the reason prevention should concentrate on the spectrum of things and root drivers of substance use. Prevention works by strengthening protecting components and decreasing danger components (PDF | 146 KB) ― on the particular person, household, college, group, and society ranges.

Examples of protecting components:

  • Creating problem-solving and battle decision expertise; creating emotional intelligence (together with how one can deal with and course of feelings); having optimistic peer, household, and group relationships; taking part in wholesome actions and connections (sports activities and recreation, arts, faith-based, cultural connections, and so forth.); and having alternatives for schooling, employment, and engagement.

Examples of danger components:

  • A low stage of emotional and communication expertise within the household; substance misuse within the household; trauma; publicity to abuse, neglect, or violence within the dwelling, college, or group; group norms and insurance policies favorable to substance use; and lack of life alternative.

Prevention is a well being fairness problem ― recognizing that substance use patterns and substance use-related harms range, primarily based on the place somebody lives, their socioeconomic standing, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender id, and entry to companies and helps.

To optimize the influence of prevention, we should tackle the social determinants of well being; assist wholesome social and emotional growth; stop and tackle trauma; assist mother and father and strengthen households; increase evidence-based packages in communities and colleges; and enhance the security, stability, and livability of group environments.

Neighborhood engagement is a foundational a part of each step of prevention planning. A participatory tradition, led or co-led by members of the group of focus, is important to the equitable scale-up of evidence-based methods. Deliberately integrating and valuing the voices, views, and experiences of youth and younger adults as brokers of change in prevention is important for fulfillment; please go to Voices of Youth.

Sources to Put Prevention Science into Observe in Your Neighborhood

There are sources to successfully put prevention science into observe:

To get extra concerned:

The fact is that we face many substance use and psychological health-related challenges in our nation. Fairly than repeatedly enjoying catch up, prevention supplies us a possibility to get forward of those challenges ― so that youngsters, households, and communities can thrive.

We’re all companions in prevention. Every of us has a job to play, in stopping substance misuse — and stopping human struggling — as people, amongst household and pals, at work and college, in our communities, and in society.

Let’s use Prevention Month as a name to motion for every of us ― individually and collectively ― to redouble our efforts to advance the life-saving work of prevention in communities throughout our Nation.


1 Ahmad FB, Cisewski JA, Rossen LM, Sutton P. (2023). Provisional Drug Overdose Dying Counts. Nationwide Middle for Well being Statistics, Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. August 28, 2023.

2 Friedman J, Godvin M, Shover CL, Gone JP, Hansen H, Schriger DL. (2022). Traits in Drug Overdose Deaths Amongst U.S. Adolescents, January 2010 to June 2021. JAMA. 2022:327(14):1398–1400. doi:10.1001/jama.2022.2847

3 Grant BF, Dawson, DA. Nationwide Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (1997). Age at Onset of Alcohol Use and Its Affiliation with DSM-IV Alcohol Abuse and Dependence: Outcomes from the Nationwide Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey. Journal of Substance Abuse, Vol. 9, pp. 103-110.

4 Grant BF, Dawson, DA. Nationwide Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (1998). Age at Onset of Drug Use and Its Affiliation with DSM-IV Drug Abuse and Dependence: Outcomes from the Nationwide Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey. Journal of Substance Abuse, Vol. 10, pp. 163-173.

5 Nationwide Institute on Drug Abuse. (2021). Youthful age of first hashish use or prescription drug misuse is related to quicker growth of substance use problems. August 28, 2023.

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