October 22, 2018


We Believe in Prevention
Alcohol and other drug abuse is the root cause of many of the serious problems facing our communities today and is conservatively estimated to cost Washington State $1.8 billion each year (Developing Healthy Communities in Washington: Communities That Care TM). This problem strains our health care, social services, education and legal systems. There is an immeasurable emotional and financial toll on families, and the County Prevention Unit has a federal mandate to take a proactive approach to the prevention of substance abuse. Their goals and objectives are refined by using county and community data which is gathered on a regular basis to develop the needs assessments used for policy development, program planning, resource allocation, developing outcome measures and implementing prevention programs and services.

Many research studies have been conducted looking at a variety of approaches to prevention programming and the misuse of a variety of substances to determine the cost-benefit of substance abuse prevention. These studies provide valuable data as a result of years of research. They estimate that for every $1 spent on substance abuse prevention services, the range of cost savings to the community was between $2 and $20. Benefits range from reductions in crime, automobile crashes, demand for social services, health care costs and increases in education level and earnings. (Prevention Works! Costs Benefit Estimates from Prevention Research. Prepared by CSAP/SAMHSA for the 2001 NPN Research Conference.)

A great example of the Prevention Unit’s work in our community is the prevention project that has provided Granite Falls Middle School students with a curriculum called Life Skills Training. As a result of this program, state data has demonstrated a significant reduction in alcohol use (down 28%), cigarette use (down 27%) and marijuana use (down 27%) for students in grades 6 and 10. In fact, the Life Skills Training implementation was so successful it received the National Science to Service Award from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in 2007.

All of the research on prevention programming consistently demonstrates the societal benefits of substance abuse prevention programs, including: reduced crime, increased earnings, decreased child abuse and neglect, reduced medical costs, etc. Many of these programs also address other adolescent problem behaviors like; teen pregnancy, violence, juvenile delinquency, school drop-out.