Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Prevention is part of the solution

Graphic from CASA Columbia
Along with another celebrity's apparent drug-related death comes media stories with suggestions about how to stop fatal overdoses.  While many of the suggestions are important and greatly needed, I have yet to read a story about stopping drug-related harms by preventing drug use in the first place.  More than 90% of people with addiction began smoking, drinking, or using other drugs as teenagers.  To address adult drug abuse we should not forget about preventing teen drug use.

Substance use prevention has changed substantially over the last 20 years.  We now know that "just say no" and programs like DARE don't work.  Not only do we now know what programs work, we know which ones are likely to give the most bang for the buck.  We also know what kinds of public policies work to create healthy environments that support positive youth development.  Substance abuse, like most public health problems, needs a comprehensive solution that includes prevention.

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