Prioritizing Prevention

Blog · Mar 16, 2022

National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week (NDAFW) is March 21-27 this year. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) devotes this week to educating parents and teens on the harmful effects of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use. For more than a decade, this annual campaign has been inspiring commitments to prevent substance use and addiction through educational events nationwide. NDAFW events bring students, health educators, and Drug-Free Communities partners together to advance addiction science and increase awareness of the harmful effects of ATOD use.

This year, inspire your community to show its commitment to drug-free living with your own NDAFW event. Involve local schools to build your NDAFW into the school calendar and form a planning committee with representatives of local stakeholder groups to broaden the reach of your event. Engage teens in your planning committee to garner their buy-in from the start. Include your local Substance Use Coalition and educational partners in the committee to achieve a broad reach and boost community participation. Identify the prevention strategies already in place in your community. Highlight and promote the good work your community is currently doing to prevent substance use.

Raise awareness of the areas you wish to address with a review of relevant statistics including the rate of underage drinking and substance use, the number of Driving Under the Influence incidents involving youth, or recent changes in the availability of marijuana. Use local information to tailor your messaging to meet your community needs and identify prevention strategies collaboratively so your efforts are both possible and likely to yield positive effects.

NIDA hosts a wealth of information to help you plan your event. Activity ideas, an official Event Map, resources on reaching out to local media, securing an official proclamation of NDAFW from your local government, and more is available at nida.nih.gov to make organizing your event easier than ever. Focus this year’s event on preventing addiction before it starts to help make your community healthier for the youth of tomorrow.

Prevention education is a cost-effective method for lowering the rates of underage drinking and teen substance use. The Alabama Department of Mental Health recently stated in their 2021 SAMHSA Block Grant End of Contract Report that their 2015-2020 implementation of Too Good for Drugs equated to a savings of $50.11 for every dollar spent on primary prevention. Advocating for increased primary prevention efforts in your community not only saves your community money, but it can also spare countless teens and families from the significant emotional toll resulting from addiction.

Prevention education is not a “one and done” strategy. Building positive norms around drug-free living and mitigating negative norms around substance use requires regular, consistent practice and reinforcement. Environmental strategies like community events in NDAFW and others support and enhance the effects of other prevention strategies including prevention education, local ordinances, and messaging campaigns, and support the community commitment to maintain prevention efforts and drug-free norms.


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