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Taking into consideration the aetiology of drug use, primary prevention programs should enhance protective factors and reverse or reduce risks factors, address all forms of drug abuse, and be tailored to address risks specific to population or audience characteristics.
There are three types of prevention approaches defined in terms of population and risk factors. Universal prevention strategies apply to the general population of youth, regardless of individual risk, and aim to deter the onset of substance abuse. Selective prevention strategies target youth who are at greater risk because of their environment. Indicated prevention strategies are directed toward youth who are already using drugs or exhibiting individual and personal risk factors of drug use, such as thrill seeking, aggression, or conduct disorders.
Universal, selective, and indicated preventive interventions are defined by their specific targets, however, all universal, selective, and indicative preventive efforts may be categorized as school-based, family or community-focused.