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NIDA evidence-based guide emphasizes preventive power of early interventions

March 10, 2016
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has released an evidence-based online guide outlining what is known about the potential of early childhood interventions that can prevent later substance-using and related behaviors. The guide includes supplements for practitioners and policy-makers that discuss the design of such interventions and how to select strategies that are tailored to individual community needs.

Principles of Substance Abuse Prevention for Early Childhood is the fourth such document created by NIDA, with others focusing on principles of adult addiction treatment, adolescent addiction treatment, and treatment for criminal justice populations. The guide recognizes the biological, psychological, social and environmental roots of substance use behavior that in some cases manifest even before birth.

“Thanks to more than three decades of research into what makes a young child able to cope with life's inevitable stresses, we now have unique opportunities to intervene very early in life to prevent substance use disorders,” NIDA director Nora D. Volkow, MD, said in a March 9 news release.

The guide addresses major influences on a child's early development, and emphasizes vulnerable periods during major childhood transitions, such as moving to a new home or experiencing parents' divorce.