The discussion on substance use should be based on three distinctions made between use, abuse, and dependence. Substance use is taking of alcohol and drugs. Substance abuse is a maladaptive pattern of drug or alcohol use that leads to clinical impairment or distress. Substance abuse is manifested in failure to fulfill adaptation at work, school, or home. It may lead to physical hazards and legal problems. It causes social and interpersonal problems. Substance dependence is manifested in tolerance and withdrawal. Dependence or addiction appears when a substance is taken in larger amounts, and there is a persistent desire to use more. A dependent individual spends most of his time trying to obtain the substance and/or recover from its effects. Fundamental social and occupational activities are reduced because of addiction.
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Planning for drug abuse prevention starts with the assessment of the type of drug problem within the community. It is necessary to determine the level of risk factors to raise awareness of the nature of the abuse problem and to develop a guide for the best prevention programs to address drug abuse problems within the specific community context. The next step includes an assessment of the community’s readiness for the prevention program. Additional steps necessary to educate the community on prevention programs should be taken before the prevention effort launch. Current programs are continuously reviewed to address the emerging needs of the community. Finally, drug abuse prevention programs cooperate closely with community organizations providing youth services. Regular meetings with leaders of youth services may provide valuable insight on drug abuse prevention (http://www.nida.nih.gov/prevention/planning.html).
The prevention principles are exceptionally beneficial as they offer scientific guidance and support for adapting effective prevention programs based on scientific research. Moreover, prevention principles give an opportunity to meet the specific needs of the community. Diverse principles, for example, explain why it is important to include a family-based program or address the drug abuse program through a school setting. Furthermore, principles are essential in helping the community to select the best prevention program with the consideration of the unique features of their community. Thus, parents, educators, and community leaders are empowered to plan how, when, and where to implement the prevention program for the greatest effectiveness.
There are many types of drug abuse prevention programs; however, all of them are community-based. Drug abuse is rarely a problem of individual essence. Research reveals that drug abuse is a matter of peer pressure, role models, conflicts in schools, and other personal factors. Therefore, the most effective drug abuse prevention programs are community-based. There are also family-based drug abuse prevention programs that involve all members of the family in the prevention effort. Social influence-based drug abuse prevention program, for example, has a successful preventive effect on young people. The most important preventive factors come from within the family setting because the family environment has the greatest impact on the child.
In conclusion, drug abuse is a serious social problem. Undoubtedly, the personality factors should not be ignored; however, the increasing number of drug addicts among young people suggests that social factors overweigh the personality ones. The family has undoubtedly the most significant impact on the development of a child and his/her choices in life. Therefore, the most effective drug abuse prevention program should start at the family level.