To assess the level of risk of youth engaging in drug abuse, it is important to:
- measure the nature and extent of drug abuse patterns and trends;
- collect data on risk and protective factors throughout the community; and
- identify prevention efforts already under way to address the problem.
It is also important to consult with key community leaders to understand the community culture. Researchers have developed many tools, available to community planners, to assess the extent of a community’s drug problems. They include public access questionnaires and existing community-level data (e.g., truancy records, drug arrest records, emergency room admissions data). For Web sites with information on these and other assessment resources, see Selected Resources and References.
As a result of scientific research, we know that addiction is a disease that affects both brain and behavior.