Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Prevention & Treatment: Working Together

By: Gina de Peralta Thorne

“Just Say No” - many of us remember this prevention campaign initiated in the 1980’s by Former First Lady Nancy Reagan, to deter the use of drugs and alcohol by our young people.  While the concept was simple, the practice was not.  Prevention scientists quickly realized that addressing first time substance use among our youth was going to involve a multi-layer approach maximizing all resources in our community. In order to influence change we needed to call on all sectors of our communities, including schools, law enforcement, businesses, parents, treatment providers and faith communities to identify protective factors that would deter our kids from the use of drugs and alcohol.

As prevention became more sophisticated with science-based outcomes, we gained traction and were able to demonstrate that prevention does work. Increased research on the brain allowed us to identify those treatment programs that effectively assist in long-term recovery.  Despite our advances in both prevention and treatment, there continue to be some misunderstandings and myths regarding prevention and treatment that  can serve as barriers to young people getting the help they need Reducing rates of drug abuse and addiction means preventing abuse whenever possible by intervening early when problems arise, providing treatment to those who need it and building communities that support recovery.

Each field – prevention and treatment –  carries an important role in addressing the issues of substance abuse that can not be isolated. Treatment may address changes in individual behaviors and attitudes, while prevention may address changes in community, social and developmental norms and practices.

PREVENTION provides:
  • Educational Opportunities/Workforce: Engaging all segments of the cycle  of addiction increases the knowledge base of prevention providers, and helps to identify and address knowledge/skill gaps.
  • Resource Knowledge: Increased opportunities to identify and refer clients needing additional services, and the resources necessary to meet their needs.
  • Presence and Reach: Having Intervention, Treatment and Recovery at the table provides unity of effort and increases involvement and power of environmental approaches.
  • Resource sharing/coordination: Opportunities to coordinate efforts (Example: Some family work may be provided by the prevention/intervention provider, enabling the treatment provider to focus more resources on individual treatment). Increased and improved cross-referral mechanisms. Increase in cross-collaboration on events like "National Recovery Month." Sharing of necessary functions like evaluation, media development, facilities, etc.
  • Utilization Rates Across the System: Increased opportunities to assess and improve access to services.
  • Advocacy: As a member of a community system, a more diverse base is available to advocate for needed programs and resources. Advocacy may also include support for policy and ordinance changes to support programs, interventions and social norms conducive to prevention and recovery.

TREATMENT provides:
  • Direct service:  treatment interventions to individuals and families with substance use disorders, including detox, crisis stabilization, therapeutic group and individual counseling. 

  • Aftercare Systems: Increased opportunities to set up "wrap around" systems to follow and support treatment clients and their families.
  • Family Support Systems: Increased ability to enable families of treatment clients to access social, educational, recreational and other support systems.
  • Stigma: Increased opportunities to reinforce that addiction is an issue not confined to one segment of the population.
Prevention leaders and Treatment providers have much to learn from each other and can be tremendous partners.  Collaboration among treatment and prevention is necessary and can build off of each other to create a healthy and safe community for people across the lifespan.

1. How substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery can work together. Rob O’ Hannon

2. CADCA: Community Anti Drug Coalitions of America

Gina de Peralta Thorne is the Director of Business Development at the Farley Center in Williamsburg. She is a graduate from Florida State University with a degree in School and Community Health Education. In 2000, she received an advanced degree in Health Education and Management from the University of West Florida. Ms. Thorne has leveraged over one million dollars in grant funding to support addiction prevention, treatment and recovery. She has provided local, regional and national leadership in coalition development addressing population-level change with substance use disorders. Gina has been a member of the Farley Center leadership since 2008 providing opportunities for individuals and families to learn more about the addiction treatment services offered on our campus.