How to Prevent Addictions in Adolescents, Adults and Youth

The goal of the prevention of drug  addiction is to achieve a reduction or elimination of addiction and its associated problems.

This reduction can be done with two general measures:

  • Detecting and reducing the risk factors of addiction (which facilitates the start or manternimiento of consumption)
  • Enhancing the protective factors (which favors the development of the person and develops it towards a healthy lifestyle)

This prevention will not be done only with the individual, but within a framework of education for health and well-being directed to an entire community.

Prevention of Drug


The programs and actions aimed at preventing addictions will have to take into account a series of populations:

  • Society: strengthen social entities, promote cultural values ​​of family and personal responsibility, social skills, long-term information actions …
  • The family: improvement of family cohesion, participation of families to enhance prevention, information to families …
  • Child population, adolescents and youth: young people and adolescents are the population that most consume drugs such as alcohol or cannabis. You need to take them into account to apply the prevention actions and elaborate them.
  • Educational community: involvement of students, families and teachers, and their coordination with health centers.
  • Labor population: involvement of companies, workers and unions

Actions for the prevention of addictions

The programs for the prevention of addictions can be carried out at three levels:

1) Primary care

  • Establish education programs on drugs, addictions and health education
  • Inform the child and adult population about the use and effects of drugs.

2) Secondary prevention

  • Detecting addictions 
  • Establish a contact with the person to find solutions, seeking to be aware of the addiction and informing about the resources and alternatives available to them
  • Motivate and promote a favorable attitude to change
  • Promote stable and healthy personal relationships within families with addicts.

3) Tertiary prevention or assistance

  • Evaluate the physical and psychological state of the addict to propose a treatment and follow-up
  • Establish a system of attention for emergency situations due to substance use
  • Encourage the addicted person to establish constant contact with the prevention centers near their home.

Goals to achieve with young people

The main goals to achieve with children, adolescents and young people in general:

  1. Inform the general population about the phenomenon of drug addiction
  2. Establish positive role models
  3. Reduce the age of onset of addictive substances
  4. Identify causes that may generate risk situations for the initiation of drug use, proposing action proposals
  5. Intervene on the social conditions that affect the consumption of substances capable of generating dependence
  6. Educate the population for responsible decision making
  7. Implement and develop community prevention programs.
  8. Limit the presence, promotion and sale of drugs in the social environment
  9. Minimize the damages associated with drug use
  10. Promote training and leisure activities 
  11. Generate leisure, culture and leisure time alternatives, promoting healthy life habits.

Most frequent addictions


The types of drugs that have caused the greatest addiction in Europe and Latin America are:


  • Every year 3.3 million people die in the world as a result of the harmful consumption of alcohol, which represents 5.9% of all deaths.
  • The harmful use of alcohol is a causative factor in more than 200 diseases and disorders.
  • There is a causal relationship between the harmful consumption of alcohol and a series of mental and behavioral disorders, in addition to noncommunicable diseases and injuries.


  • Tobacco kills up to half of its consumers.
  • Every year, tobacco kills almost 6 million people, of whom more than 6 million are consumers of the product and more than 600,000 are non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke.
  • Unless urgent measures are taken, the annual death toll could rise to more than 8 million by 2030.
  • Almost 80% of the one billion smokers in the world live in low- and middle-income countries.


The cultivation and production of cannabis herb (m@rijuana) remains widespread, but the production of cannabis resin (hashish) is still limited to a few countries in North Africa, the Middle East and south-west Asia.


Cocaine use is still concentrated more in America, Europe and Oceania, while virtually all world production takes place in three countries of South America. It has serious side effects.

What is an addiction?

An addiction is a repetitive, compulsive behavior that the person has difficulty avoiding.

This concept can be applied to:

  • Addictions to substances: the behavior that is repeated is consumption, search, preparation and recovery
  • Addictions without substances: like gambling addiction or new technologies
  • In addition, there are other addictions to substance such as addiction to shopping, sex, food or exercise.

One of the main differences between the two is that in addictions with substance, the withdrawal syndrome is much more intense and politoxicomania occurs more frequently.

What is a drug?

According to WHO, a drug is any substance that when introduced into a living organism modifies one or several of its functions. This definition includes toxic substances, medicines and some foods.

To clarify doubts, alcohol and tobacco are drugs, although this is allowed in practically all Western countries.

Also Read: Alcoholism in Adolescence: 7 Guidelines to Prevent it

Both substances produce effects at the neuronal level, generating structural changes in the brain in the medium and long term.

They are psychoactive substances that have the ability to modify mental activity:

  • Perception
  • Emotions
  • Sensations
  • Behaviors
  • Thought