Primary prevention of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) occurs prior to a diagnosis of SUD including the diagnosis of addiction. Prevention strategies and activities are planned using data and can target an entire population such as a whole school or whole community, a set of individuals whose risk of developing a disorder is significantly higher than average such as children of parents with SUD and/or individuals in high-risk environments who have minimal but detectable signs or symptoms foreshadowing disorder or have biological markers indicating predispositions for disorder such as children who have experienced early childhood trauma and are exhibiting behavior problems at school.

Prevention Strategies

Effective prevention is comprehensive and includes each type of prevention described above.  To have an impact, prevention must promote healthy environments where individuals live, work and play while also addressing institutional, family and individual-level risk and protective factors.

The state of NH promotes the use evidence-informed prevention strategies.  To learn more about how to select evidence-informed substance misuse prevention strategies and to find related resources, please see Other Resources in the Plans-Reports-Publications Tab.

NH Service to Science

The Center for Excellence oversees a process called NH Service to Science by which programs developed, implemented and evaluated in NH can submit and application and receive support in becoming endorsed as a promising evidence-based practice.  Please see Best Practices tab for more information.

Prevention in NH through the Regional Public Health Network System

The NH Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health Services and Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services developed a Regional Public Health Network (RPHN) system to address regional public health priorities, including substance use disorder. There are thirteen RPHNs in the state and each region has a Substance Misuse Prevention (SMP) Coordinator. For a list of the SMP Coordinators and their contact information in the state along with additional resources regarding the RPHNs, please see Workforce Development tab.

The SMP Coordinator in each region is dedicated to coordinating community-based prevention initiatives and providing support to the six core community sectors below. Each of these sectors is central to any community and each is impacted by and has the ability to implement strategies to prevent substance misuse.

  1. Business – The misuse of alcohol and drugs impacts businesses in many ways – from its immediate effects on productivity and workplace safety to broader implications in terms of increased insurance rates and higher costs for public health and law enforcement. Businesses and employers can prevent alcohol and drug misuse through professional development and training programs, policy changes, and awareness-building.
  2. Education – Educators, guidance counselors, coaches and peers have the potential to influence the decision-making of every student in a school. Educators at every level – high school, vocational and technical schools, colleges and universities, can prevent alcohol and drug abuse through the adoption of evidence-based programming, policy change, social marketing campaigns, and related training.
  3. Health/Medical – Medical and health care workers see the effects of substance abuse every day. The medical and mental health sector can prevent alcohol and drug abuse through professional development and training programs, clinical practice changes, policy change and other activities.
  4. Safety – The misuse of alcohol and other drugs has a powerful impact on safety, law enforcement and criminal justice systems.  Car crashes, accidents and criminal activity place an ongoing strain on community resources. The long lasting and pervasive effects of addiction are reflected in statistics showing that an estimated 80% of individuals in correctional facilities have an alcohol or drug problem. Additionally, alcohol and drug abuse and dependence is one the most prevalent reasons for repeat offenses and incarceration. The growing problem of prescription drug misuse further taxes law enforcement agencies as pharmacies and insurance companies require police reports for the authorization of replacement medications. The safety sector can prevent alcohol and drug misuse through the application of evidence-based programming, policy changes, and related training.
  5. Government – County and local governments can prevent alcohol and drug misuse through the support of local policy and prevention initiatives.
  6. Community Supports – Alcohol and drug misuse has a profound effect on every facet of a community, from families to schools to public health to law enforcement. Community and family support organizations can prevent alcohol and drug abuse through the adoption of best practice policies and the use of evidence-based programming.

Partnership for Success (PFS)

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services’ Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services was awarded a federal grant from SAMHSA to impact substance use among high-need populations in identified communities to reduce: 1) underage drinking among persons aged 12 to 20; 2) prescription drug misuse and abuse among persons aged 12 to 25. 25 middle and high schools and two colleges are sub-recipients of this funding to support evidence-based student assistance programs and other prevention efforts. For more information, contact Jill Burke at (603) 271-6112.

For additional resources specific to the six core community sectors or PFS (Education Sector), please see the Resource Tab.