Substance Abuse Prevention

Substance Abuse Prevention in United States

Substance Abuse Prevention

Approach to Drug Prevention

Preventing drug use before it begins is the most cost-effective, common-sense approach to promoting safe and healthy communities. Research shows an association between drug use and traffic crash deaths, lost productivity and poorer academic performance. Illicit drug use also contributes to HIV-transmission rates and puts children at risk for abuse and neglect. If we can prevent substance use and dependence before it ever begins, we can save lives and cut costs related to healthcare and criminal justice. Learn more about prevention in the National Strategy below.

Substance Abuse Prevention

Young people deserve every opportunity to live up to their full potential and exposure to effective drug prevention messages helps their chances. Federal resources totaling $1.7 billion are requested in FY 2012 to support education and outreach programs aimed at preventing the initiation of drug use. This represents a nearly 8 percent increase ($123.0 million) over the FY 2010 enacted level. Here are some ongoing prevention programs and activities:

  • Prevention in the National Strategy (see below)
  • National Prevention Council (see below)

National Prevention Council and the National Prevention Strategy

On June 16, 2011, the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council announced the release of the National Prevention Strategy (NPS), a comprehensive plan to help increase the number of Americans who are healthy at every stage of life. Called for under the Affordable Care Act, the National Prevention Strategy was developed by the National Prevention Council, which is chaired by the Surgeon General and composed of 17 Federal agencies.

Prevention and the National Drug Control Strategy

The National Drug Control Strategy contains 18 actions related to drug prevention, organized under 5 overarching principles:

1.     A National Prevention System Must Be Grounded at the Community Level

  • Develop Prevention-Prepared Communities
  • Collaborate with States to Support Communities
  • Spread Prevention to the Workplace

2.    Prevention Efforts Must Encompass the Range of Settings in Which Young People Grow Up

  • Strengthen the Drug Free Communities Program
  • Revamp and Reenergize the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign
  • Support Mentoring Initiatives, Especially Among At-Risk Youth
  • Mobilize Parents To Educate Youth to Reject Drug Use

3.    Develop and Disseminate Information on Youth Drug, Alcohol, and Tobacco Use

  • Support Substance Abuse Prevention on College Campuses
  • Expand Research on Understudied Substances
  • Prepare a Report on Health Risks of Youth Substance Use

4.    Criminal Justice Agencies and Prevention Organizations Must Collaborate

  • Provide Information on Effective Prevention Strategies to Law Enforcement
  • Enable Law Enforcement to Participate in Community Prevention Programs in Schools, Community Coalitions, Civic Organizations, and Faith-Based Organizations
  • Strengthen Prevention Efforts along the Southwest Border

5.    Preventing Drugged Driving Must Become a National Priority on Par with Preventing Drunk Driving

  • Encourage States to Adopt Per Se Drug Impairment Laws
  • Collect Further Data on Drugged Driving
  • Enhance Prevention of Drugged Driving by Educating Communities and Professionals
  • Provide Increased Training to Law Enforcement on Identifying Drugged Drivers
  • Develop Standard Screening Methodologies

Prevention Campaigns: the Drug-Free Communities Support Program

This Federal grant program provides funding to community-based coalitions that organize to prevent youth substance use. Based on the idea that local drug problems require local solutions, the program has funded over 1,750 coalitions and currently mobilizes nearly 9,000 community volunteers across the country. Learn more about the details of the Drug-Free Communities Support Program below.

Drug-Free Communities Support Program Overview

The Drug-Free Communities Support Program (DFC) is a Federal grant program that provides funding to community-based coalitions that organize to prevent youth substance use. Since the passage of the DFC Act in 1997, the DFC Program has funded more than 2,000 coalitions and currently mobilizes nearly 9,000 community volunteers across the country. The philosophy behind the DFC Program is that local drug problems require local solutions. With a small Federal investment, the DFC Program doubles the amount of funding through the DFC Program’s match requirement, to address youth substance use. Recent evaluation data indicate that where DFC dollars are invested, youth substance use is lower. Over the life of the DFC Program, youth living in DFC communities have experienced reductions in alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use.

Purpose of the DFC Program

The primary purpose of the DFC program is to:

  1. Establish and strengthen collaboration among communities, public and private non-profit agencies; as well as federal, state, local, and tribal governments to support the efforts of community coalitions working to prevent and reduce substance use among youth.
  2. Reduce substance use among youth and, over time, reduce substance abuse among adults by addressing the factors in a community that increase the risk of substance abuse and promoting the factors that minimize the risk of substance abuse.

DFC grantees are required to work toward these two goals as the primary focus of their Federally-funded effort.  Grants awarded through the DFC Program are intended to support established community-based coalitions capable of effecting community-level change. For the purposes of the DFC Program, a coalition is defined as a community-based formal arrangement for cooperation and collaboration among groups or sectors of a community in which each group retains its identity, but all agree to work together toward a common goal of building a safe, healthy, and drug-free community. Coalitions receiving DFC funds are expected to work with leaders within their communities to identify and address local youth substance use problems and create sustainable community-level change through environmental strategies.

Recent data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) indicate increases in youth prescription drug abuse, as well as marijuana, ecstasy, and methamphetamine use.  Now, more than ever, the DFC Program is needed in communities across the country to help prevent drug use and reduce its consequences.  Drug problems manifest in local communities and show up in our schools, churches, health centers, and in our homes.  The DFC Program helps local leaders organize to identify the youth drug issues unique to their communities and develop the infrastructures necessary to effectively prevent and respond to the disease of addiction.

The Drug Free Communities Act of 1997 and the Formation of the DFC Program

Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) receives funding for the DFC Program from Congress through the Drug Free Communities Act of 1997 (Public Law 105-20) to provide support to community-based coalitions that have formed to address local youth substance use and its related consequences.  The DFC Program was reauthorized through ONDCP’s Reauthorization Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-469).  The latest reauthorization extends the program until 2012.  Since 1998, ONDCP has awarded more than 2,000 DFC grants. Grants have been awarded to communities from every region in the nation and include rural, urban, suburban, and tribal communities.

The DFC Program is overseen by ONDCP, with day-to-day management conducted by Government Project Officers (Center for Substance Abuse Prevention/CSAP) and Grants Management Specialists (Division of Grants Management/DGM) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Substance Abuse Prevention: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Substance Abuse Prevention. This part provides references, in relation to Substance Abuse Prevention, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Substance Abuse Prevention by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Substance Abuse Prevention and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Substance Abuse Prevention or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Substance Abuse Prevention and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Substance Abuse Prevention. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Substance Abuse Prevention should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Substance Abuse Prevention when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

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