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Substance Abuse Prevention Can Be the Key for Youth

on Saturday, 26 May 2012. Posted in Breaking News

Substance Abuse Prevention

Many people are aware of the impact that mental illness and substance abuse can have of individuals, families, and the community. According to, youth will often begin to medicate to cope with symptoms of these illnesses. Young people have not yet learned to cope with things such as ADHD, anxiety, depression, and other such ailments.

Youth often report having access to alcohol and drugs, especially prescription drugs. Research shows that the brain is not fully developed until the ages of 21 to 23, so using these substances can cause more damage to the brain, not allowing it to develop all the way.

How can parents, educators, church members, and members of other community organizations help children to avoid substance abuse? Many prevention efforts use "scare" tactics to try and reach kids, bringing in recovering addicts to tell horror stories. Research has shown these tactics are not very effective.

Over the last several decades, some effective strategies to delay the onset of drug use have been developed. Programs to give kids the skills to prevent substance abuse have been successful. Three approaches are frequently used.

Universal prevention programming is designed to reach as many people in the community as possible. This approach includes activities such as health fairs, community presentations, and public awareness campaigns.

Selective measures are used with youth who appear at higher risk for substance abuse. An example is a program that teaches life skills, especially teaching the ability to cope with stress.

Indicated prevention activities are used when a person is already a high risk for substance abuse. These youth may have experimented with alcohol and drugs, or have been in trouble already. These activities include using evidence based programs that have given positive results, as well as treatment for specific substance abuse, if needed.

Another significant factor that prevents substance abuse is for youth to have a caring relationship with an adult. This adult could be a parent or family member, or even a church member, teacher, or other adult role model. Studies show that a child is less likely to use substances when they feel connected to a good role model.

Often times, though, it is substance abuse professionals are the first contact of "help" for these youth. The good news is that these professionals can help children and their families find other resources for help in the community. Substance abuse prevention services are often times free. They can often be found through churches, schools, and other community organizations.

If you know any families of youth dealing with substance abuse, click here for more information.

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