Universal, Selective, and Indicated Prevention
Universal prevention strategies are designed to reach the entire population, without regard to individual risk factors and are intended to reach a very large audience. The program is provided to everyone in the population, such as a school or community. An example would be universal preventive interventions for substance abuse, which include substance abuse education using school-based curricula for all children within a school district.
Selective prevention strategies target subgroups of the general population that are determined to be at risk for substance abuse. Recipients of selective prevention strategies are known to have specific risks for substance abuse and are recruited to participate in the prevention effort because of that group’s profile. Examples of selective prevention programs for substance abuse include special groups for children of substance abusing parents or families who live in high crime or impoverished neighborhoods and mentoring programs aimed at children with school performance or behavioral problems.
Indicated prevention interventions identify individuals who are experiencing early signs of substance abuse and other related problem behaviors associated with substance abuse and target them with special programs. The individuals identified at this stage, though experimenting, have not reached the point where clinical diagnosis of substance abuse can be made. Indicated prevention approaches are used for individuals who may or may not be abusing substances but who exhibit risk factors such as school failure, interpersonal social problems, delinquency, and other antisocial behaviors, and psychological problems such as depression and suicidal behavior, which increases their chances of developing a drug abuse problem. In the field of substance abuse, an example of an indicated prevention intervention would be a substance abuse program for high school students who are experiencing a number of problem behaviors, including truancy, failing academic grades, suicidal ideation, and early signs of substance abuse. Several of the DSHS youth indicated programs use the evidence-based curriculum “Reconnecting Youth,” which is designed for high school students and is TEA approved for credit.
Substance Abuse Prevention