Five principles should underlie substance use prevention efforts

October 18, 2021

A systematic review conducted by the Children’s Health Policy Centre made five recommendations for practitioners and policy-makers to consider when trying to prevent problematic substance use. They were:

  • Consider underlying factors. While targeted prevention efforts should include youth with early substance use, other underlying factors should also be considered and addressed.
  • Weigh the value of short programs. For some youth, very brief interventions may curtail problematic substance use.
  • Tailor interventions to the level of adversity. Some youth have experienced very serious adversities, such as child maltreatment necessitating foster care, and may require more intensive interventions.
  • Recognize the value of school-based delivery. Schools can be a good venue for targeted prevention programs.
  • Address youth substance use with a comprehensive strategy. Intervention efforts need to be part of a larger public health strategy. For example, by addressing social determinants, such as family socio-economic disadvantage, risks that  contribute to substance problems for young people can be reduced.

For more information, see Vol. 13, No. 4 of the Children’s Mental Health Research Quarterly.