Substance use prevention, along with treatment and recovery support, is perhaps the most critical component of the public health approach needed to transform how our nation addresses addiction.
Despite research showing us that addiction is preventable, and widespread agreement about the importance of prevention, our country continues to under-invest in comprehensive, commonsense, and sustainable prevention strategies. This leaves us in the repeated and tragic position of having to respond in an urgent and costly fashion to addiction crises such as the recent vaping, ongoing opioid, and emerging stimulant epidemics.
The changes that are needed to transform how our nation prevents addiction are many and can feel daunting. Implementing these changes will require substantial shifts in how we think about addiction and prevention, how we allocate funds, and how our education, health, child welfare, and criminal justice systems operate. But recent interest in and attention to the broader pressing needs of children and families place us at a pivotal moment to change the approach to preventing substance use and addiction. Importantly, these changes will also help to more effectively prevent a number of other negative outcomes that share the same risk and protective factors.
Our 2022 Substance Use Prevention Agenda presents the priorities that we believe are essential for transforming the way our nation addresses prevention. Many of these priorities are cross-cutting and all aim to advance the principle of supporting and empowering families and communities. These do not represent all of the necessary changes but rather those that are priorities for our organization and where we’ve already begun or plan to undertake specific work. The priorities fall into the following categories:
- Adopt an Earlier and Broader Approach to Substance Use Prevention
- Protect Youth from Legal Addictive Substances
- Reform Systems of Care to be Family-Serving
- Reduce Disparities and Promote Equity in Prevention