What is Substance Abuse Prevention?

Substance abuse prevention is the use of strategies and techniques that are meant to discourage and dissuade individuals from misusing substances, most likely drugs or other chemicals. Prevention techniques include counseling and even use of other drugs that may help take away urges for those who have already become addicted or dependent on a substance. The counseling may not only focus on impulsive behavior, but any underlying issues that may lead to the abuse of drugs. Intervention may also take place through the court system.

One of the most common substance abuse prevention strategies involves true prevention by teaching children of the dangers of drugs. This is often done in the school through programs such as Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE). In this program, a member of law enforcement often goes into the schools to show children the consequences of misusing drugs. Often, the program is held at the elementary school level in order to reach kids before the pressures become greater.

For those who have already succumbed to drugs and developed a dependency, substance abuse prevention involves finding a way to help them prevent future episodes. To do this, there may be a variety of techniques utilized. Counseling with qualified drug counselor is one popular technique, but alternatives to incarceration and other programs may also provide some good opportunities for substance abuse prevention.


Alternatives to incarceration, known as drug courts in some locations, may include probation and drug monitoring. Upon successful completion of this substance abuse prevention program, those who had been involved with drugs may have their charges dropped. This provides the motivation for those arrested to change their ways, and gives them a chance to keep their records clear. The three year re-incarceration rate for those in such programs is much less than the general rate for those using drugs. A study in Brooklyn, N.Y. found those who went through the alternative program were approximately half as likely to re-offend.

The cost of substance abuse prevention treatment is often one that is shared by an entire community, with possible grants and supplemental funding from a federal or state government. Those who abuse drugs may not have adequate health insurance to pay for mental health counseling and other treatment programs. Therefore, without help from the community, very few of these individuals would likely be able to afford a treatment program. In many cases, the expense is seen as an investment not only for that individual, but also any children that may be dependent on that individual.



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