The causes that may lead someone to drug use or any other kind of addiction can vary according to several factors: age, gender, type of personality, family conditions, cultural and environmental background. Hence the designed preventive actions take into consideration the needs and the characteristics of the population or the group, they are meant for.
In order to be effective, preventive interventions should take place at the same time in as many settings as possible: family, school, peers, community, mass media.
Prevention is a long term process beginning early in childhood, while it processes in every developmental stage. Early diagnosis and intervention, when for instance aggressive behavior or low self-control have just occurred, generates better results in comparison to later intervention.
Preventive programs are designed to intervene in crises and transitional stages, every person undergoes from his childhood throughout his entire life. Such stages could be school onset, puberty, transition to University, joining the army, getting married, having a child, grief, divorce, immigration etc. Due to the emotional distress these changes produce, the demonstration of dangerous behaviors becomes more likely.
Addiction Prevention includes:
Valid information on the causes of addiction, the kinds of it and the protective factors along with the questioning of myths around the issue.
Sensitization in relationship, communication and mental health issues in general, aiming at early diagnosis and intervention, since the causes that could possibly lead to addiction, can be detected many years before someone experiments with any kind of addiction and they are manifest in many ways and behaviors.
Personal and social skills training allow one to handle the challenges and the difficulties in life. Some important life skills for children and adults are: expression and processing of emotions, communication, self-respect, self-esteem, assertiveness, the ability to form relationships and to endure separations, conflict resolution, critical thinking, goal setting etc.
Supporting parents in their role. Family environment and the quality of relationships can influence a child either negatively or positively against potential dangers. Parents can protect their children not only from substance use, but also from any other harmful behavior through their own attitude, when they encourage them to communicate their feelings and to become independent. Prevention is today strongly connected with the process of upbringing.
Supporting school in its social role. Teachers can have a positive impact on children's development and future social life by fostering their commitment to the school environment, by helping them develop a healthy sense of self esteem, by promoting a positive attitude towards school projects and by facilitating their relationships with other children.
Undertaking initiatives to promote teamwork and solidarity in the community to enhance feelings of security and personal worth.
Motivating people to change social conditions that adversely affect mental health and quality of life. Financial, social and moral crisis as well as the modern way of life contribute significantly to an increase of risky behaviors.