Prevention Related Programs

What We Do

The Bureau of Substance Abuse secures and administers prevention grant funding as well as provides technical assistance and support to prevention professionals and funded community-level agencies statewide.

Using a variety of effective prevention strategies across the lifespan, funded agencies collaborate at the community-level to reduce alcohol, tobacco and other drugs use, delay the early initiation of problem gambling and prevent suicides. Using data to drive decisions, funded agencies work with multiple community sectors to complete the following:

  • Assess a community’s true needs by reviewing local, state and national data;
  • Build local capacity around prevention efforts;
  • Reflect each community’s cultural diversity;
  • Develop community-level strategic plans to address prevention needs;
  • Implement strategic plans to increase positive behavior change;
  • Evaluate local efforts; and
  • Sustain positive outcomes.

Story of the River

The story below is frequently used to describe primary prevention.

Two friends, Susan and Fernando, are fishing on a river when Fernando looks upriver and sees a man in the water. He is struggling to stay afloat, so Fernando drops his fishing pole and pulls the man out of the water. The man is sputtering and cold, and Susan calls an ambulance on her cell phone to take him to a hospital. Susan and Fernando go back to fishing. Pretty soon they look upriver again and see a woman in the water. She is struggling, too, so Fernando drops his fishing pole again and pulls the woman out of the water.

She is not in very good shape, so Susan calls another ambulance to take her to a hospital. The friends return to fishing when they look upriver and see a whole group of people in the water. They are struggling to stay afloat and look like they are dragging each other down. Fernando drops his fishing pole and starts hauling people out of the water. He looks up and sees Susan walking away, upriver. He calls to her to come help pull people out of the river, and Susan responds that she is going upriver to find out why all the people are ending up in the water.

What Prevention Is

We go upriver to find out what contributes to people misusing substances or experiencing issues. We want to know exactly what is causing people to fall into the river, which may be different from river to river. Perhaps we go upstream—like Susan—and find that a fence to keep people away from the river has fallen and needs to be rebuilt. Maybe there is a slippery slope running into the river and we can plant vegetation to prevent people from falling down the banks. Perhaps there is a big sign announcing, “The water’s great; jump in!” and we can take the sign down and replace it with a warning. Prevention works to discover what is causing people to misuse substances or engage in high-risk activities in each community, and then works to reduce those risks and to build protections.

Source: Introduction to the field of prevention, The Athena Forum by the Washington State Health Care Authority/Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery, 2018

Who can I contact for more information?

To learn more about prevention services and connect with a IDPH funded prevention agency in your area, or with any questions.