The Social Psychology of Drug Abuse

By Steve Sussman; Susan L. Ames | Go to book overview

8
Drug abuse prevention programmes

This chapter will discuss various aspects of drug abuse prevention programming. First, prevention and cessation terminology will be presented. Next, parameters of drug abuse prevention programming will be discussed, including breadth of prevention programming (single drug or multiple drugs), modalities of prevention programming (contexts of delivery), contents of programming (process and substantive material) and target populations of programming (general versus high risk). In particular, the later part of this chapter will address what type of programming might be more or less suitable for which population.


Prevention and cessation terminology

Traditionally, public health researchers and practitioners have divided the field of prevention programming into three levels. These levels are primary prevention (before the problem behaviour starts), secondary prevention (before the disease starts) and tertiary prevention (before death is likely). New terms are now taking hold. Prevention may be considered ‘universal’ (designed to affect the general population), ‘selective’ (designed to affect subgroups at elevated risk for developing a problem, based on social, psychological or other factors) or ‘indicated’ (designed to affect high-risk subgroups already identified as having some detectable signs or symptoms of a developing problem: Gordon 1987). The key difference in meaning of these prevention vocabularies pertains to whether the focus is on the chronology of the problem or on the target population. While there is, perhaps, an implication of chronology in the second definition, the direct focus is on fitting programming to a target group. Arguably, a universal prevention programme could have a secondary prevention goal. For example, a programme designed for the general population could hope to affect those at higher risk for drug abuse. Thus, there is a possibility of some crossing of these terms.

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