Why is PREVENTION the answer?

Because Prevention WORKS!

The prevention of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs has been a priority in North Carolina, and the country, for decades. The North Carolina Institute of Medicine (NCIOM) has stated that

“Substance use and abuse is both a health problem in itself and a health risk contributing to other health problems” In its recent report (2009) the NCIOM goes on to say that Prevention should be the cornerstone of North Carolina’s efforts to reduce inappropriate use, misuse, and dependence on alcohol and other drugs, and to prevent the incidence and severity of stress, depression, or other anxiety disorders.

In turn, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that if effective prevention programs were implemented nationwide, substance abuse initiation would decline by 1.5 million youth. Youth who do initiate use will delay that initiation by an average of two years. For subsequent years, this would have estimated a return of:

  • 5.6 percent fewer youth ages 13–15 would have engaged in drinking;
  • 10.2 percent fewer youth would have used marijuana;
  • 30.2 percent fewer youth would have used cocaine;
  • 8.0 percent fewer youth would have smoked regularly.

SAMHSA goes on to report that these reductions in use would also contribute to a reduction in cost to our cities, counties, states, and the country. For example, the average effective school-based substance abuse prevention program costs $220 per pupil including materials and teacher training, and these programs could save an estimated $18 per $1 invested if implemented nationwide. The report goes on to argue that if full implementation of effective prevention programming would occur nationwide it could have a cost benefit of:

  • Saving state and local governments $1.3 billion, including $1.05 billion in educational costs within 2 years;
  • Reducing social costs of substance-abuse-related medical care, other resources, and lost productivity over a lifetime by an estimated $33.7 billion;
  • Preserving the quality of life over a lifetime valued at $65 billion.

As you may recognize from the information listed here, Substance Abuse Prevention is not just about “feel good” programs that tug at the heart strings of individuals, families, and the community; instead it is combination of care and concern for our youth with a combination of science to assure our achievement of our target. To put it into one phrase, the state of

North Carolina strives to provide all Prevention Professionals with the best trainings and tools for “effective prevention programs” and strategies because we know that helping just one high-risk youth graduate from high school, avoid heavy drug use, and not engage in crime would create a healthier youth AND save our state between $1.7 and $2.3 million dollars.

NC Institute of Medicine. (2009). Prevention for the Health of North Carolina: A Prevention Action Plan. More information can be found at: www.nciom.org/projects/prevention/Prev_Interim_Report-09.pdf


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. (2008). Substance Abuse Prevention Dollars and Centers: A Cost Benefit Analysis


Cohen, M. (1998). The monetary value of saving a high-risk youth. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 14, 5-33.

Leave A Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.