BEE HEARD: What is prevention?

What is Prevention?

  • Prevention is the action of stopping something from happening or arising.
  • Prevention can reduce the impact of substance use and mental disorders in America’s communities.


What is prevention in public health?

Prevention activities are typically categorized by the following three definitions:

  1. Primary Prevention: intervening before health effects occur, through measures such as vaccinations, altering risky behaviors (poor eating habits, tobacco use), and banning substances known to be associated with a disease or health condition.
  2. Secondary Prevention: screening to identify diseases in the earliest stages, before the onset of signs and symptoms, through measures such as mammography and regular blood pressure testing.
  3. Tertiary Prevention: managing disease post-diagnosis to slow or stop disease progression through measures such as chemotherapy, rehabilitation, and screening for complications.


Messaging and Prevention Exercise.

Ask yourself these questions and write down the answers on a piece of paper.

  1. What were some of the messages you received about substance abuse when you were growing up?
  2. What are some of the messages you received about wellness and emotional well-being when you were growing up?
  3. What types of prevention programs do you recall participating in? What were the messages delivered in these programs?
  4. How do these experiences affect your attitude and current approach to addressing substance use?

Now compare your answers to the information below and write down your reactions.


History of Alcohol & Drug Abuse Prevention.


  • Drug use intensified. Heroin addiction alone hit an all-time high in urban areas.
  • Scare tactics through films and speakers


  • People used drugs to have psychedelic experiences. Associated with the counterculture or racial/ethnic minorities. By the end of the decade, it was a national epidemic.
  • Scare tactics through films and speakers; information through films and speakers.


  • Alcohol and drug use were recognized as major public health problems. War on Drugs Campaign.
  • Drug education using curricula based on factual information; effective education using communication, decision-making, values clarification, and self-esteem.


  • “Just Say No” campaign; encouraging youth to resist peer pressure by saying “no.” Partnerships developed as the public became increasingly involved in addressing the problems of substance use.
  • Parent-informed organizations to combat drug use; social skills curricula; refusal skill training; and parenting education.


  • Research now examining protective factors and risk factors. The value of professionalism and training grew. Community collaborations received funding to address drug use.
  • Community-based approaches to prevention; environmental approaches; media campaigns; culturally sensitive programs; evaluation of prevention programs; professional training programs.


  • Understanding of the connections between substance use and mental illness/health evolved. “Behavioral Health” encompassed both substance use and mental health problems.
  • Application of evidence-based models; comprehensive programs targeting many contexts (family, school, community); data-driven decision making through the strategic planning process.


  • Greater emphasis is placed on prevention and treatment for everyone. Behavioral health was integrated with primary care under the Affordable Care Act of 2010.
  • Use of evidence-based practices; strategic planning process; improved access to health insurance with better benefits for mental health and substance use services and support.


Does prevention work have guidelines?

Yes, prevention work has many guidelines to help guide good decision making. Here are just a few of the guidelines:

  • Prevention programs should enhance protective factors and reverse or reduce risk factors.
  • Prevention programs should address all forms of drug use, alone or in combination, including underage use of legal drugs (e.g., tobacco, marijuana or alcohol); use of illegal drugs (e.g., marijuana or heroin); and the inappropriate use of legally obtained substances (e.g., inhalants), prescription medications, or over-the-counter drugs.
  • Prevention programs should address the type of drug use problem in the local community, target modifiable risk factors, and strengthen identified protective factors.
  • Prevention programs should be tailored to address risks specific to population or audiences’ characteristics, such as age, gender, and ethnicity, to improve program effectiveness.
  • Family-based prevention programs should enhance family bonding and relationships and improve parenting skills; provide practice in developing those skills; discussing and enforcing family policies on substance use; and provide training in drug education and information.


What about Prevention Science, what is that?

Prevention Science uses scientific methodology to find out what factors are causing certain problems or issues. Many of the evidence-based programming or systems have used prevention science to prevent or change major human behaviors or dysfunctions. In short, science is now behind prevention and many studies back up the findings.

Through prevention science, we now are more aware of drugs and effects on children and adolescent brains.


What does all this mean?

The prevention work around alcohol and drugs go back into the mid-1900s and the programs have evolved due to scientific discoveries; many tribes are using or creating their programs to combat drug addiction and drug use. Come join the Southern Ute Prevention Coalition and let’s find or create a program that works for us. But first, we must work together, unite and discuss our concerns, prioritize, research programs and find ways to implement these prevention programs on the reservation. We need your help to do this.


Credit: SAMHSA’s Center for the Application of Prevention Technologies and Administration’s Center for the Application of Prevention


Want to help and be a part of the change?

Looking for community members and youth to join the Prevention Coalition tasked to reduce youth substance usage, eliminate mental health stigma and start the discussion around suicide and prevention.

Upcoming Prevention Coalition Meeting: Feb. 26 at So. Ute Museum- Large Classroom. Dinner served at 5:30 p.m., meeting starts at 6 – 8 p.m.

Contact Precious Collins, Native Connections Program Coordinator for more information 970-563-2487.


Upcoming Trainings:

Youth Mental Health First Aid Training: This training is designed to teach parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, school staff, peers, neighbors, health and human services workers, and other caring citizens how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or is in crisis. March 13, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the SunUte Community Center. Please register with Precious Collins 970-563-2487. Free training for anyone who works or lives in the Southern Ute Indian Reservation. Light snacks will be provided.


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