For eight years, I have joined the many professional and volunteer Preventionists in trying to explain what we do to the general public. Some common, brow-raised reactions include: “Drug prevention? You mean like DARE?”, “Prevention is a thing?”, “Oh I know, Red Ribbon Week!” or my favorite of all time, “You’re against alcohol?”
In 1735, Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote about fire precaution became “a thing” when he said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Many great American accomplishments and life-saving techniques were created with his creed in mind: forest and house fires, crimes, cancer, diabetes, safety, child abuse, and tooth decay to name a few. Finally, about 255 years later, as our communities were grappling with the devastation of Substance Use Disorders, falling short on resources for treatment, and discovering that this particular disease targets teens; substance use prevention was born.
To sum it up in one sentence, prevention efforts seek to increase protective factors and resiliency among youth by decreasing risk factors associated with initiating substance use. This is what we do! Missouri’s Prevention infrastructure is extremely successful because it allocates the resources, capacity building, and decision-making power to individual communities to address their unique needs.
On Monday, May 14, communities will kick off their celebrations of SAMHSA’s National Prevention Week; an annual health observance dedicated to increasing public awareness of, and action around, the importance of SU prevention and positive mental health.
Please join us and use this week to hone your prevention skills, learn the latest information, and help our communities thrive with “Action Today. Healthier Tomorrow”.