Prevention: Creating a Path to a Healthier and Stronger Nation

Ed. Note: This post was updated at 10:00 am on February 16, 2012.

The concept of substance abuse prevention is a simple one: the most efficient and cost-effective way to reduce the damage caused by drugs and alcohol, is to prevent abuse and addiction before it starts.  However, translating that concept into actionable objectives and measurable results is a difficult task that many of our National, state, local, and tribal partners have been perfecting for years.  It is in celebration of these outstanding and ongoing efforts, and in recognition of all of the Americans’ lives that can be improved through prevention that I stand with President Obama in commemorating National Substance Abuse Prevention Month.

Millions of Americans struggle with substance abuse and the negative consequences of their addiction also impact their families, friends, neighbors, and communities.  In fact, substance abuse touches every sector of our society, straining our health care and criminal justice systems – costing the U.S. as much as $193 billion annually in recent years. Prevention is the key to reducing this financial burden and building healthy and safe communities across the country.  Put simply, it makes more sense to stop drug use before it begins to generate addiction and crime than it does to warehouse people in prisons.  

We know that prevention works.  Recent research has shown that each dollar invested in an evidence-based prevention program can reduce costs related to substance use disorders by an average of $18.  Community programs have been effective in encouraging prevention at the local level and parents can serve as positive role models by talking with their children about the dangers of drug use.  Through effective prevention programs we can decrease emergency room visits, and lower rates of chronic disease, improve student achievement, and enhance workforce readiness.  All of these actions are vital at a time when the Country is working tirelessly to recover from a lagging economy. However, this is also the ideal time to get personally involved.

Join your friends and neighbors by getting involved today:

Visit the prevention website for more information about ONDCP’s prevention efforts, including the Drug-Free Community Support Program and the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, and read the President’s National Substance Abuse Prevention Month Proclamation.

R. Gil Kerlikowske is Director of National Drug Control Policy

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