What is Substance Misuse Prevention?


The main focus on supporting those with substance misuse problems usually focuses on treatment. However, it is just as important and more necessary for care providers to work on effective and successful substance misuse prevention strategies. The Advisory Council on The Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) comments on the discussions in substance misuse prevention. They stress there is a need to identify and understand the best approaches to substance abuse prevention.

Complex systems, the report says, such as primary care, communities and schools can all aid interventions to produce a successful result. The necessity of employing a complex systems approach is exemplified when trying to use other approaches in isolation they are not as successful. For example ‘mass media publicity campaigns’ and drug education in schools were found to have little impact.

In terms of existing prevention work, the document comments on the use of prevention and intervention strategies that have not been proven effective. These include mailed, group-feedback and social marketing based approaches to reduce alcohol misuse. Of all the possible prevention measures there is an emphasis on work in schools. The house of common report says Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE) in school should be made statutory.

A 2013 report from Ofsted noted the subject needed improvement. 74% of respondents to a Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children survey in 2014 felt PSHE classes helped them look after their own health. Micheal O’Toole the Chief Executive of the alcohol and drug prevention charity mentor mentioned the role of good PSHE within schools is to enable young people to be more self-aware and resilient to peer pressure. This is of high importance because being resilient or responding to peer pressure can be the difference between substance misuses or the prevention.

As well as prevention before an intervention is needed it is also necessary to stress the importance of prevention post-intervention – relapse prevention. Some may not understand relapse prevention is much like a process more than a sudden change it is important to understand the emotional mental and physical aspects of relapse prevention to conquer substance misuse in individuals. One key way to achieve this is to do catch-up sessions with treatment users sometime after they have had the intervention.

Of them all, the most influential aspect of prevention starts from a young age. As aforementioned work in schools most influences lives and by tackling the issue young more and more people each year may deter substance misuse. Evidently, more work needs to be done to identify any ineffective strategies and help successful treatment for those who do need it.