The first step in planning a drug abuse prevention program is to assess the type of drug problem within the community and determine the level of risk factors affecting the problem. The results of this assessment can be used to raise awareness of the nature and seriousness of the community’s problem and guide selection of the best prevention programs to address the problem.
Next, assessing the community’s readiness for prevention can help determine additional steps needed to educate the community before launching the prevention effort. Then, a review of current programs is needed to determine existing resources and gaps in addressing community needs and to identify additional resources.
Finally, planning can benefit from the expertise of community organizations that provide youth services. Convening a meeting with leaders of these service organizations can set the stage for capturing ideas and resources to help implement and sustain research-based programs.
The Community Plan
Prevention research suggests that a well-constructed community plan:
- Identifies the specific drug and other child and adolescent problems in a community;
- Builds on existing resources (e.g., current drug abuse prevention programs;
- Develops short-term goals related to selecting and carrying out research-based prevention programs and strategies;
- Projects long-term goals so that plans and resources are available for the future; and
- Includes ongoing assessments of the prevention program.