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 Iowa. More teens use alcohol than tobacco or other drugs.


Although adolescents and young adults drink less often than adults, they tend to drink more than adults, frequently drinking as many as five or more drinks on a single occasion. (SAMSHA, 2015)

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 Northern Iowa.
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.
Additional Information
  • Drug Facts: Electronic Cigarettes, NIH
  • Attention Bar and Restaurant Owners
  • OTC and prescription drugs are increasingly abused because of the current availability, access, awareness, and attitude.


    OTC and prescription drugs can be dangerous when taken for non-medical reasons, by a person other than it is prescribed for, or in extreme amounts.


    The consequences of abuse of over-the-counter and prescription drugs include:

    • Unprotected, unplanned, unwanted sexual activity
    • Impaired motor vehicle driving/passengers resulting in accidents, injuries, and death
    • Poor academic and athletic performance in youth
    • Impacted work performance and attendance
    • Experimentation and mixing of other drugs
    • Serious injury or death

    Illicit drugs have many different forms. These forms change as new substances are created and distributed. Some illicit drug forms closely resemble candy or other medications.

    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.

  • ASAP - Allamakee Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition
  • DDAC - Delaware County Drug Abuse Coalition
  • DASAC - Dubuque Area Substance 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.

    Staff work with high school students to help them prioritize which substance abuse issues are most important to them and their classmates.
    >Get more details on Youth Groups.

    Local Drugs and Our Agency Stance

    Drug Our Stance Prevention Strategies Additional Information
    Alcohol We promote low risk drinking:
    0 Alcoholic Drinks (for youth under 21 and pregnant women)
    1 Alcoholic Drink (per occasion for women)
    2 Alcoholic Drinks (per occasion for men)
    Community Coalitions, Youth Groups, Responsible Beverage Server Training, Puppet Pals, Life Skills, Youth Mentoring, Policy Development, Off to College Booklets Drugfree.org
    Marijuana Smoked marijuana has no scientific medicinal value. Therefore, this a drug that is considered to have only adverse health and social effects. No smoked marijuana is safe, nor legal. Community Coalitions, Youth Groups, Presentations Drugfree.org
    Prescription Medications Prescription drugs are usually safe when taken as directed by your physician. Taking medication in different amounts or for other purposes than prescribed can affect the brain and body similar to illicit drugs. Also, using prescription drugs which are not prescribed to you can be very harmful. Permanent Drug Drop-Off Containers and Tack Back Events
    Tobacco All tobacco products are unsafe. We encourage people to never start using it. If you do use, we can connect you with resources to quit. Community Coalitions, Youth Groups, Quitline Iowa, Policy Development, and Presentations Drugfree.org

    Additional Articles about Substance Abuse Prevention

    By Carson Eggland, Executive Director | This year marks the 43rd year that Helping Services has served communities of Northeast Iowa. Originally opened as the Decorah Information Center in 1973, the variety of programs and services offered has changed thr...

    Continue Reading
    blog-grid

      Nothing good happens without a great team, and that certainly applies to the work at Helping Services. Our team of full- and part-time staff, AmeriCorps members, board members, interns, and volunteers works tirelessly to ensure programs are delivered t...

    Continue Reading
    Translate »