5 Principles of Prevention for Addiction
An important component in the battle against addiction is prevention. By identifying risk factors for drug abuse, positive action can be taken before an addiction develops.
Approximately 23 million American adults have an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Treatment programs and support will likely be needed in most cases to effectively end the addiction. And although there are many resources out there, some addicts will not reach help in time.
Prevention can lower the number of drug abusers. It eliminates the need for treatment, because it targets the root of addiction before it can take hold.
What are Prevention Programs?
Prevention-based programs identify risk factors in children and young adults that can lead to future drug abuse. These programs also aim to cultivate protective factors, which inhibit drug abuse.
Prevention programs are tailored to fit a particular setting, whether it be at home, at school, or within a community. Programs are also adapted to fit their target audience. Children in elementary schools and children in middle schools would have different programs to address each audience.
The Principles of Prevention
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) along with other federally funded programs have researched the most effective means of prevention. These principles can be used by community leaders to provide effective prevention programs.
Below are some of the key principles of prevention:
Strengthening protective factors and reducing risk factors should be a key part of all prevention programs. Support from parents and involvement within the community are examples of protective factors, while aggressive behaviors and poor parental support are examples of risk factors.
Risk factors can change depending on the child’s age, environment, and culture. Young children may be more affected by troubles at home, while teens may be more affected by having drug-using peers.
For elementary school students, programs should focus on strengthening social and emotional learning, as well as improving academics. These are protective factors. The following skills should be addressed:
- Emotional awareness
- Social problem solving
- Support in academics, such as reading
For middle and high-school students, social skills and academics should be focused on. The following should be addressed:
- Drug resistance skills
- Relationships with peers
- Reinforcement of anti-drug attitudes
Programs should be repeated. As the child develops, prevention programs should arise that address the changes in age and community involvement.
Programs should be interactive. Group discussion, role-playing between parents and children, and involvement that reinforces learning about drug abuse should be implemented.
Prevention programs are an effective asset to communities. The cost of these programs can eliminate the need for treatment of substance abuse. In addition, be eliminating the risk of addiction, children and young adults can add to the community through productivity. Instead of having to treat a future addiction, giving children the skills needed to step away from drug abuse is a positive step toward reducing addiction in upcoming generations.