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Evidence-Based Prevention

Twenty years of research and practice in the field of substance abuse prevention have yielded much information about what works. This research has led federal agencies and foundations to promote science-based substance abuse prevention and science based programs. Generally, science-based programs are considered to be those that show evidence of effectiveness-that is, produce measurable positive results related to substance use or to risk and protective factors associated with substance use. According to the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (SAMHSA/CSAP, 1999), there are several advantages to adopting science-based prevention programs:

  • They maximize the chances of achieving positive prevention outcomes;
  • It is more efficient to apply and, if needed, adapt a science-based program than to develop a program from scratch and to prove it is effective; and
  • The risk of producing unintended negative outcomes is reduced; in general, programs that produce negative outcomes are not deemed science-based.
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