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Prevention Presents: Environmental Prevention

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Environmental Prevention
Deirdre Washington, M.Ed., OCPSI 
Manager, Prevention Education

Effective prevention strategies are critically important in community efforts to fight substance abuse. Virtually everyone is susceptible to alcohol and other drug problems at different points in their lives. Some people, however, are at higher risk for developing serious addiction because of personal, family, or environmental circumstances. 

Six prevention strategies have been identified that measurably reduce drug use, including by those at high risk. These strategies share a common goal: strengthening “protective factors,” such as well-developed social skills, strong family bonds, attachment to school, and active involvement in the community and religious organizations, while reducing “risk factors” that increase vulnerability to drug abuse.

These promising strategies to Reduce Substance Abuse are:

  • Information Dissemination
  • Education
  • Problem Identification and Referral
  • Community Based Process
  • Drug Free Social Alternatives
  • Environmental Approaches

With summer parties ahead, environmental approaches are one of the ways to address substance misuse and abuse in our communities. Environmental prevention messages are Clear-Consistent and Unified. They attempt to promote policies that reduce risk factors and/or increase protective factors related to substance abuse by:

  • Changing Community Norms so high risk and illegal use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs is not acceptable.
  • Decreasing Access and Availability of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
  • Addressing the community’s media messages about alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
  • Addressing Policy and Enforcement

For example, laws prohibiting increasing the minimum legal drinking age to 21 substantially reduces youth alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes; and increasing enforcement of laws prohibiting sales to underage drinkers reduces youth access to alcohol.

One such strategy taking place at state and local levels is Parents Who Host, Lose the Most: Don’t be a party to teenage drinking. This public awareness campaign educates communities and parents about the health and safety risks of serving alcohol at teen parties concentrates on celebratory times for youth, such as homecoming, holidays, prom, graduation and other times when underage drinking parties are prevalent.

Parents Who Host, Lose the Most: Don’t be a party to teenage drinking is a tremendous tool for communities to address environmental factors which contribute to underage drinking. While laws vary from state to state, campaign message is universal: it is illegal, unsafe and unhealthy for anyone under 21 to drink alcohol.

To learn more about Environmental Prevention visit: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojp/183152.pdf

Information and resources to implement Parents Who Host visit: https://www.drugfreeactionalliance.org/parents-who-host



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Social Networking and Your Child
Julie Pratt, MSW, LISW-S
Clinical Director



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