Prevention Works!

Empowering Youth to Reach Their Fullest Potential

​Youth Focused Prevention Education

The harmful use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs is a major social problem that is deeply rooted in our society. We live in communities, attend schools, and work in places where the affects of addiction present serious obstacles to the health and welfare of all. Children and youth are especially vulnerable to problems associated with the harmful use of alcohol and other drugs.

  Until recently, the general response to alcohol and drug use among youth has been to provide treatment that attempts to alter problem behaviors after they have surfaced. However, efforts to reduce the harmful use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs among youth through treatment have been disappointing at best. Treatment for addicted adolescents is extremely costly and has shown only modest success. Furthermore, the large investment in treatment does nothing to alter the spread of the problem to other youth. As one commentator has noted:

"It's as if we were providing expensive ambulances at the bottom of a cliff to pick up the youngsters who fall off, rather than building a fence at the top to keep them from falling in the first place."

Fortunately the past decade has brought a promising growth in the development of science based programs that reduce the risk factors and increase the protective factors associated with the harmful use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs by youth. By reducing risk factors while increasing protective factors throughout the course of a young person's development, we can often prevent the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs and promote healthy, pro-social growth.

Every year that substance use is delayed during the period of adolescent brain development, the risk of addiction and substance abuse decreases.

Some of the risk factors associated with the use of drugs among youth are:

  • A chaotic home environment

  • Ineffective parenting

  • Lack of natural attachments to other youth and adults

  • Inappropriate and aggressive behavior in the classroom

  • Poor social coping skills

  • Affiliation with peers engaged in unhealthy or risky activities

  • Perceptions of approval of drug-using behaviors in the school, peer and community environments

Some of the protective factors that increase resistance to drug use and promote healthy, pro-social growth are:

  • Strong bonds with the family

  • Experience of parental monitoring with clear rules of conduct and high parental expectations

  • Success in school

  • Caring supportive environment in the school and community

  • Strong bonds with social institutions such as school, church and community organizations

  • Opportunities for responsible involvement in the family, school and community

  • Clear, positive community norms

BRiDGES provides a variety of science based prevention programs that have a demonstrated record of success in fostering healthy, pro-social growth that reduces risk factors and increases protective factors associated with the harmful use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs by youth. Click on the links below to find out more about a specific youth prevention program.