People turn to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs (ATOD) to deal with stress, peer pressure, pain or to help them feel good. Prevention gives people, particularly youth, the chance to learn how to cope with their complicated day-to-day lives without using these substances.

To have a future impact on our youth and communities, we provide services to engage people to model and promote healthy behaviors.

> See all Substance Abuse Prevention Services and Opportunities

What are we preventing?

Underage drinking is a significant problem in Northeast Iowa. Consumption of alcohol by anyone under the age of 21, also known as underage drinking, remains a considerable public health challenge.

Adolescent alcohol use is not an acceptable rite of passage, but a serious threat to adolescent development and health. Medical research shows that the developing adolescent brain may be particularly susceptible to long-term negative consequences of alcohol use. (SAMHSA, 2017)
Because overconsumption leads to many destructive health, economic, and social burdens, we must stop it before it starts. Unfortunately, it is a common problem in Northeast Iowa.

(Centers for Disease Control, 2017)

Prevalence of Binge Drinking Among US Adults, 2015:
(Centers for Disease Control, 2017)
Nicotine reaches your brain within ten seconds and is highly addictive. No matter which method is used to get nicotine into the body, harmful consequences are guaranteed. If you haven’t started using tobacco by the time you’re 18, there’s a good chance you never will. Be that statistic. (Centers for Disease Control, 2017)

Electronic cigarettes (also called e-cigarettes or electronic nicotine delivery systems) are battery-operated devices designed to deliver nicotine with flavorings and other chemicals to users in vapor instead of smoke. Click here to learn more about e-cigs and electronic smoking devices. (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2017)
Some medications have psychoactive (mind-altering) properties and, because of that, are sometimes abused—that is, taken for reasons or in ways or amounts not intended by a doctor, or taken by someone other than the person for whom they are prescribed. In fact, prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are, after marijuana (and alcohol), the most commonly abused substances by Americans 14 and older. Click here to learn more about prescription and over the counter medications. (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2017)
Chronic exposure to drugs of abuse disrupts the way critical brain structures interact to control and inhibit behaviors related to drug use. Just as continued abuse may lead to tolerance or the need for higher drug dosages to produce an effect, it may also lead to addiction, which can drive a user to seek out and take drugs compulsively. Drug addiction erodes a person’s self-control and ability to make sound decisions, while producing intense impulses to take drugs. (NIH, 2017)

Illegal drugs have many different forms. In Northeast Iowa, some of the most common are: marijuana including marijuana concentrates, candies, and other edibles; cocaine; heroin; and methamphetamine.

These forms change as new substances are created and distributed. While many promote these new synthetic drugs as legal, they are unsafe chemical compositions intended to mimic many illegal substances.

(National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2017)
Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in Northeast Iowa (Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy, 2016). When a person smokes marijuana, THC quickly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream. The blood carries the chemical to the brain and other organs throughout the body. (NIH, 2017)

Click here to learn more about marijuana and its effects on the brain and body:

(National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2017)

The term medical marijuana refers to using the whole, unprocessed marijuana plant or its basic extracts to treat symptoms of illness and other conditions. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not recognized or approved the marijuana plant as medicine. (NIH, 2017)

Click here to learn more about the use of marijuana as medicine:

Why Prevention Is Important

Youth who wait longer to try ATOD (alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs) are less likely to become addicted, and everyone who avoids using substances is healthier overall.
For every $1 society spends on prevention programs, $18 are saved in health care costs (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2009).
Every two years 6th, 8th, and 11th grade students throughout Iowa take the Iowa Youth Survey. This school administered survey asks students their thoughts and involvement in areas such positive family relationships, school expectations, social pressures, youth access to substances, safe and supportive neighborhoods, and violent and aggressive behaviors.

We use that data to evaluate how our efforts are working to change youths' perceptions of harm regarding substances. The studies often show that kids think they are invincible and care little about long-term consequences. We have seen some substance use rates drop, such as tobacco, and others rise, such as marijuana. By understand the youth substance abuse culture, we can identify elements to focus on bringing positive change.

Prevention Strategies

Each county has unique needs, culture, and desire for change. To address this, we participate in coalitions within each of our service counties.

  • 5C - Clayton County Community Collaboration Council
  • ASAP - Allamakee Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition
  • DDAC - Delaware County Drug Abuse Coalition
  • FCSAC - Fayette County Substance Abuse Coalition
  • Howard County Prevention Five Substance Abuse Coalition
  • Winneshiek ERASE Substance Abuse Coalition
  • In the effort to reduce the availability of alcohol to youth and improve the quality of life in our communities, we partner with local law enforcement to conduct enforcement strategies, such as compliance checks and party patrols.

    Compliance Checks

    The goal of a compliance check program is to identify alcohol establishments that sell alcohol to underage youth. The checks also are used to educate retailers about liquor laws and help to keep alcohol out of the hands of youth.

    Selling alcohol is a privilege that has very specific responsibilities attached to it, and many local retailers take this responsibility seriously. Let local retailers know that you support and encourage their efforts to reduce underage access.

    Party Patrols

    Party patrols are designed to dedicate appropriate resources to close down and contain underage party situations (homes, fields, campgrounds, etc.). This strategy benefits the community and its youth by reducing the negative consequences associated with underage drinking and potentially identifying adults who are illegally providing alcohol to underage individuals.

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