To celebrate National Prevention Week, I think it’s worth taking a look at why Prevention is so important. This great Top 10 list was developed by Clare Jones, Director of Prevention Services at Helping Services and was originally published in Prevention, Summer 2011 Issue.
It seems like every late night show or popular magazine has a top ten list to share with you these days. We have been thinking of a way to talk about the importance of prevention and have decided to boil it down to this.
10. Because it’s cheaper to prevent problems than to fix them. It is estimated that the cost to the nation for substance abuse is more than $500 billion dollars per year. For every $1 invested in prevention we can save up to $36. That is a lot of taxpayer money!
9. Sure, we’ve all heard “drink responsibly,” but what does that mean? We need to have community conversations about what “low risk” drinking is, how we feel about drinking as a community, and how we model healthy behaviors for our kids.
8. Kids who use alcohol before the age of 15 are significantly more likely to have lifelong problems with alcohol. How will that affect their lives when they are trying to balance school, a job, and a family down the line?
7. We know that the teenage brain is not completely developed until one’s mid-twenties. Adding substances to that still-developing brain affects health, school performance, and makes youth more likely to engage in a whole range of other risky behaviors. Being a teenager is challenging enough as it is. Why make it harder?
6. It is not as easy as “Just Say No.” All kids need to hear that it is unhealthy and unacceptable for anyone under the age of 21 to drink or use other drugs. Let’s teach them how to say no, how to make good choices, and how to deal with stress in healthy ways. Looking for ideas on how to say no? Try our Ways to Say “No” Generator.
5. It is not just about having a designated driver. Did you know that alcohol is involved in 50% of sexual assaults?
4. Because drinking too much significantly increases your chances of being injured or even killed (think fatal car crashes, falls, drowning, and burns).
3. Because parents need to hear the message that they are the number one reason most kids choose not to use alcohol or other drugs. Your kids might be telling you that you’re lame, but we know they are listening. Kids who don’t have parents who make clear rules about alcohol, tobacco or other drugs are three times more likely to use them. (P.S. Talking over family dinners is a great way to start the conversation about your rules and consequences! Want some other ideas on how to get the conversation started? Request a Family Talk Box. You can also use these conversation cards.
2. It can be as simple as matching kids with a mentor who will take them fishing or out to get an ice cream cone. Believe it, because the research (and the stories we hear from our mentors and mentees) tells us it’s true: mentoring can prevent drug use. Kids who are connected with caring adults are less likely to use substances and more likely to do better in school and in life. Who do the youth in your life trust and feel connected to?
And the Number 1 reason that prevention is important is…
1. Because you can connect almost every other social concern to substance abuse in some way: crime, poor health, poverty and abuse, to name a few. If we can make an impact on substance abuse in our communities: smoking, underage drinking, binge drinking and drug use, we can take a big step toward creating healthier communities and healthier lives for those living in Northeast Iowa.
What’s your connection to Prevention? Do you have a few more reasons of your own? Share them in the comments below. Happy National Prevention Week!