What is Prevention?

Going Up River

Susan and Fernando are fishing on a river when they see a man in the water! He is struggling to stay afloat, so Fernando drops his fishing pole and pulls the man out of the water. The man is sputtering and cold, and Susan calls an ambulance to take the person to a hospital. Susan and Fernando go back to fishing. Pretty soon they look up river again and see a woman in the water! She is struggling, too, so Fernando drops his fishing pole again and pulls the woman out of the water. Susan calls another ambulance to take her to a hospital.

The friends return to fishing when they look up river and see a whole group of people in the water! They are struggling to stay afloat. Fernando drops his fishing pole and starts hauling people out of the water. He looks up and sees Susan walking away. He calls to her to come help pull these people out of the river, and Susan responds that she is going up river to find out why all the people are ending up in the water.

What Prevention Is

Prevention services and strategies “go up river” to find out what contributes to people abusing substances and needing treatment services. In this analogy, we want to know exactly what is causing people to fall into this river. Perhaps Susan goes upstream and finds a fence built to keep people away from the river has fallen and needs to be rebuilt. Or, Susan finds a slippery slope running into the river and can plant vegetation on the slope to prevent people from falling into the river. In prevention work, we want to find out what is causing youth to abuse substances in our community, and then we work to reduce those risks and to build protection against substance abuse.