The most effective way to prevent substance abuse and other behavioral health issues is to create an environment supportive of youth making healthy decisions.

One of the best ways to do this is to start at home. Research shows that when parents consistently communicate and enforce family values and expectations, act as positive role models, monitor their child’s whereabouts, and provide constant support and encouragement, they can effectively create a healthy home environment.

But prevention can’t stop there—communities must also be supportive of these same values. For example, implementing and enforcing school, workplace, and community policies that make alcohol and drugs less accessible to youth are highly effective ways to reduce substance abuse and related consequences among youth. Another is for schools to be trained to identify and screen for behavioral health-related issues and understand where to make appropriate referrals. These approaches, when implemented consistently and collaboratively can have lasting effects.

The North Dakota Department of Health and Human Services' Behavioral Health Division is the leading source of behavioral health promotion and substance abuse prevention resources in North Dakota. The Division can assist individuals, families, and communities with implementing effective substance abuse prevention efforts.

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