The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) second annual National Prevention Week begins on Sunday, May 12. This national health observance, which continues through May 18, aims to increase public awareness of, and action around, substance abuse and mental health issues. This year’s theme – Your voice. Your choice. Make a difference. – emphasizes that the choices we make each day are important and have a real effect on our health and the well-being of our families and communities. Each day of National Prevention Week 2013 has a unique focus to recognize states’ and communities’ prevention efforts and highlight multiple facets of behavioral health:
May 12: Prevention and Cessation of Tobacco Use
May 13: Prevention of Underage Drinking
May 14: Prevention of Prescription Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Use
May 15: Prevention of Alcohol Abuse
May 16: Suicide Prevention
May 17: Promotion of Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Well-being
May 18: (Communities identify an issue of their choice)
Our nation’s states and communities provide many evidence-based programs and strategies promoting mental and emotional well-being and preventing substance abuse. SAMHSA applauds their excellent work in showing that prevention works. As a result of states’ and communities’ concerted prevention efforts, important progress has been made in many areas, such as in the decline of underage binge and heavy drinking rates between 2002 and 20111. However, much work remains to be done.
• The adverse health effects from cigarette smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke account for an estimated 443,000 deaths, or nearly one of every five deaths each year.2
• One quarter of young people between the age of 12 and 20 currently drink alcohol, and an estimated 6 million participated in binge drinking at least once in the last 30 days.3
• Approximately 23 million Americans aged 12 or older, or roughly 9 percent of the population in this age group, are current illicit drug users.4 This includes individuals who use illicit drugs, as well as the approximately 6 million people who report that they currently use prescription drugs for nonmedical purposes.5
• Each year, suicide accounts for more than 38,000 deaths in the United States, and in 2011, it was the 10th leading cause of death.6
• An estimated 1 in 5 people aged 18 or older had a mental illness in the past year.7
National Prevention Week 2013 offers a way for everyone to voice their support for prevention and take action to make a difference in their communities. One way to get involved is to take the Prevention Pledge and share it with colleagues, family and friends. Another way is to participate in a National Prevention Week event in your community or a community near you. Individuals also can take part in the National Prevention Week “I Choose” Project. Snap a photo of yourself or a friend with a sign saying why you choose prevention, and then send it to SAMHSA for posting in our photo gallery. Be a part of National Prevention Week 2013, and use your voice and positive choices to champion healthy living year-round.
Frances M. Harding
SAMHSA Center for Substance Abuse Prevention
1Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2012). Results from the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings. NSDUH Series H-44, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 12-4713. Rockville, MD: SAMHSA. Retrieved May 2, 2013, from http://www.samhsa.gov/data/NSDUH/2k11Results/NSDUHresults2011.htm.
2U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2004.
3Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2012). Results from the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings. NSDUH Series H-44, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 12-4713. Rockville, MD: SAMHSA. Retrieved May 2, 2013, from http://www.samhsa.gov/data/NSDUH/2k11Results/NSDUHresults2011.htm.
6Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2012). Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2011. (National Vital Statistics Report, Vol. 61, No. 6: October 10, 2012). Retrieved May 2, 2013, from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr61/nvsr61_06.pdf.
7Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2012). Results from the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Findings. NSDUH Series H-45, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 12-4725. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved May 2, 2013, from http://www.samhsa.gov/data/NSDUH/2k11MH_FindingsandDetTables/2K11MHFR/NSDUHmhfr2011.htm.