Guest post by Devin Rowe, Executive Director at the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Hampshire -
Substance use prevention is a coordinated, comprehensive and multi-faceted, community-wide investment. It is more than a single program, it is done over a long period of time, and it is no one sector of the community's responsibility. Substance use prevention is not easily defined because it often so ingrained in everyday life - but what exactly does prevention do?
While the word prevention in of itself means to prevent something (usually bad) from happening, what is often overlooked is the endless ways prevention can be achieved and maintained throughout the lifespan of an individual.Common evidence-informed prevention practices include building resilience and skills in youth and young adults that they may can utilize across the entirety of their lifespan. Another, more common form of prevention, can be an intervention to identify risky behaviors.
There are prevention strategies that can be done as soon as early childhood. Common evidence informed prevention strategies include: taking medicine carefully, reinforcing positive behaviors and long-term prevention providing education and life skills.
It's important to remember that prevention is not one size fits all - it looks different in each community and for each individual. In New Hampshire there are areas that have coalitions who engage invested individuals from schools, law enforcement, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, businesses, and local and state government.
The prevention professionals on the ground have worked hard to build up local coalition and support groups. Every county in New Hampshire is represented by a Public Health Network that employs a Substance Misuse Prevention Coordinator who works closely with these prevention partners to develop programs and provide resources in the effort to prevent youth drug and alcohol use. The state of NH has a credentialing board for prevention that is recognized across the country to ensure that professionals have the knowledge, science and experience.
As the Executive Director for the Partnership for a Drug-Free NH, we are a proud supporter of prevention and will continue to work on how this science is implemented and portrayed in the state of New Hampshire.While there are many differing views on how prevention should be done on the local level there is absolutely no denying the science and evidence that concludes simply: when invested into properly, prevention works.
Partnership for Drug Free NH