Prevention is an important part of addressing the ever-present issue of substance abuse in our communities. It focuses on helping individuals develop the skills and knowledge they need in order to lead a healthy lifestyle and avoid problem behaviors.
There are many different factors that contribute to the likelihood of an individual turning to drugs or alcohol. Prevention work focuses on decreasing the risk factors (a factor that increases the likelihood an addiction will occur) an individual may have and increasing the protective factors (a factor that minimizes the likelihood an addiction will occur).
Examples of Risk Factors
A risk factor is something that can increase the likelihood of problem behaviors such as substance use disorder.
- Family history of problem behavior
- Family conflict
- Favorable parental attitudes towards drugs
- Early initiation of drug use
- Availability of alcohol and other drugs
- Academic failure
- Low commitment to school
- Perceived risk of drug use
- Friends who use drugs
- Depressive symptoms
A protective factor is something that can reduce the possibility of problem behaviors such as substance abuse.
- Family attachment
- Developed social skills
- Belief in the moral order
- Participation in activities with family, school and community that promote engagement and positive social interactions
- Development of positive coping skills
- Positive modeling by parents/caregivers
Prevention Activities in Our Community
In NYS there are over 180 prevention providers funded through the Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services, or OASAS. Providers work hard to deliver evidence-based programming to schools, training sessions for educators and parents, positive alternatives for children, and involvement with community coalitions. Columbia County prevention services are provided by Catholic Charities of Columbia and Greene County. Greene County prevention services are provided by Twin County Recovery Services.
The classroom education that is provided is crucial to the development of well-rounded students. In Columbia County, Catholic Charities uses Too Good For Drugs, an evidence-based program of the Mendez Foundation, that aims to prevent substance abuse, violence, and delinquency. Evidence-based refers to the fact that these programs have been studied and their effectiveness has been proven. Prevention providers also work with students to promote communication skills, develop healthy friendships, improve conflict resolution skills, help them manage emotions and make good decisions, and manage stress and practice self-control.
Catholic Charities also provides positive alternatives to students after school and throughout the summer, as it is a good opportunity to reinforce the ideas taught during the school day and keep students active and healthy with fun ideas instead of engaging in problem behavior.
Twin County Recovery Services (TCRS) delivers New York State OASAS approved Evidence Based Programming (EBP) such as the Mendez Foundation’s “Too Good for Violence” Program, and Active Parenting Now Programs for Parents of Children Ages 5-12 and for Children Ages 1-4. TCRS delivers Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the National Registry of EBP and Practices approved programs such as “An Apple A Day” and Prevention Gambling Presentations. TCRS also has Intervention Counselors in Greene County Schools which support youth in improving grades, interpersonal relationships, increasing graduation rates, and reduce or delay the onset of substance use.
The Tobacco Free Coalition of Columbia and Greene County leads the way and TCRS is privileged to collaborate delivering vaping presentations to Greene County residents of all ages. TCRS keeps current issues in the forefront with on staff columnists’ monthly “Prevention Talk” Column featuring current topics such as “Vaping” and ” Nature Nurtures “.
Catholic Charities and Twin County Recovery Services also attend many community events where they provide information to families and have fun activities and prizes for youth in the community. Both agencies participate in community coalitions where they provide support and work together with other stakeholders to change the attitudes and ideas in the communities we serve.
A cost benefit analysis done in 2015 by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy showed that on average every dollar spent by New York State on prevention saves them 20 dollars on future services related to substance abuse.