What is Prevention?
Updated: Aug 12
Written by Beth Creek
Have you ever watched a toddler playing at the park or in a yard? Perhaps you positioned yourself between the little one and the parking lot, or busy road. You probably watched vigilantly as they ran and played, keeping an eye out for strangers or other dangers that might exist. Your actions were a form of prevention, and we use prevention naturally in our everyday lives.
In its simplest form prevention is the action of stopping something from happening. Preventing a little one from running into the street, using seat belts to prevent injury, or wearing a life vest to prevent drowning, are just a few examples that come to mind.
Substance use prevention is just what it says- the act of stopping substance use from happening, and while it sounds simple, it is actually quite complex. Effective prevention encompasses a spectrum of strategies. The Drug Free Cecil Youth Coalition utilizes all 7 Environmental Strategies in their work.
Provide information- Youth often speak at Town Hall meetings, create PSA’s and develop billboard campaigns.
Enhance skills- Whether it is a lunch and learn via Zoom, Community Anti Drug Coalitions of America conferences or our annual Youth Leadership Summit, we are always working to enhance skills.
Provide support- This can be mentoring, providing alternative activities to engage youth, parenting classes, etc.
Enhance access/reduce barriers- Barriers such as language, and transportation can be addressed to enhance access for more youth to the programs we provide.
Change consequences (incentive, disincentive)- The Drug Free Cecil site includes a page devoted to acknowledging Liquor Licensees who have passed their compliance checks for three consecutive years. This is an incentive- public recognition.
Change physical design- Most often this form of prevention includes better lighting in parking lots to discourage drug sales/use. It can also limit the density of liquor establishments in a predetermined area.
Modify/change policy- Several years ago we led a successful policy change effort that increased the number of people who are required to have Responsible Beverage Service Training in Cecil County. This policy has made our community safer by reducing the number of individuals who are selling alcohol to minors or serving those who are already intoxicated (overservice).
As you can see - Substance Use Prevention is a science! This first blog post is merely an introduction to the topic, and in no way an exhaustive explanation. Twice a month we will have a blog post diving deeper into prevention and the Drug Free Cecil Youth Coalition. Over the next few months you will hear from local experts on prevention related topics and, most importantly, our youth! We believe Prevention is the solution to the epidemic of substance abuse we are battling and the DFCYC are on the front lines of the fight. Join us as we strive to be part of the solution in Cecil County.