Youth Substance Use Prevention Programs

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Youth prevention programs empower young people to meet life’s challenges and transition into adulthood by partnering with their families and communities to promote healthy environments and behaviors.

Youth prevention programs use an evidence-based approach endorsed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Youth prevention programs are delivered before the onset of a substance use disorder and are intended to prevent or reduce the risk of developing a health problem, such as underage alcohol use, prescription drug misuse or illegal drug use.

How Do Youth Prevention Programs Work?

Youth prevention programs deliver services to the following priority populations and their families:

  • Youth prevention universal is offered to young people in general. There are no special requirements.
  • Youth prevention selective is offered to young people who may be at higher than average risk for substance misuse.
  • Youth prevention indicated is offered to young people who face certain challenges — such as truancy, failing grades or experimental substance misuse — and could use extra support.

Young people and their families participate in youth prevention activities in schools and community sites. Activities are conducted by trained professionals and carried out or monitored by certified prevention specialists.

What Are the Benefits of Youth Prevention Programs?

Youth prevention activities lead to a wide variety of positive outcomes, including:

  • Reduced substance use risk factors through increased or strengthened protective factors:
    • Improved self-esteem
    • Increased academic achievement
    • Strengthened social skills
    • Improved family relationships
    • Increased feelings of belonging and connectedness
    • Increased access to support services
  • Enhanced cultural identity and pride
  • Decreased instances of substance use and misuse
  • Decreased risk for health issues related to substance use and misuse and unhealthy habits
  • Reduced likelihood of legal issues
  • Reduced risk for behavioral health issues
  • Reduced costs to society associated with health care, law enforcement and assistance programs
  • Enhanced sense of well-being
  • Improved quality of life

Who Is Eligible for Youth Prevention Programs?

  • Youth in grades K-12
  • Families of youth participating in youth prevention programs

How Do I Get Youth Prevention Programs?

Locate providers offering youth prevention program services in your area, and get their contact information through this map.

Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

800-273-8255
800-273-TALK

Find your local mental health authority or local behavioral health authority.

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