OASAS believes prevention is a pro-active, research-based, data-driven process using proven-effective strategies and programs to reduce or prevent alcohol and other drug abuse in individuals, families, and communities. Understanding and identifying risk and protective factors help prevent problem behavior and promote healthy development among children, adolescents, and young adults. OASAS promotes using the most appropriate evidence-based programs and strategies in targeted populations. By reducing risk factors, providers reduce the impact of substance use disorder in their community.
Risk and protective factor-focused prevention efforts are grounded in the public health approach to planning, using data-based predictors of problem behaviors and positive outcomes. To date, this evidence-based approach has validated that the risk and protective factors paradigm is predictive of youth problem behaviors such as substance abuse, delinquency, teen pregnancy, school drop-out, and violence. Research on evidence-based model programs and practices has shown that reducing risk and increasing protective factors does lead to lower levels of youth problem behavior.
A Needs Assessment is a systematic, rational process for collecting and analyzing information to describe the needs of a population. For substance use prevention, it allows community planners to identify the levels of risk and protective factors operating in a given community that are predictive of substance use and related problem behaviors. This information can then be used to inform policy and program planning with the goal of reducing those risk factors and enhancing protective factors to positively impact the problem behavior.
In addition, the data collected serves as a baseline for monitoring the effects of programs and community efforts to address the problem behaviors. OASAS recommends four methods for collecting needs assessment data:
- Population Surveys- systematic surveys of middle and high school students to assess a community's risk and protective factors.
- Archival Risk Indicators- data collected by government agencies or service providers for administrative or planning purposes. Archival data can give an estimate of the prevalence of various risk factors, problem behaviors, and consequences.
- Key Informant Interviews- Structured, one-on-one interviews with a person who is familiar with the risk factors or problem behaviors in a population and whose position provides access to the needs of that population.
- Focus Groups- Small, interactive structured group discussion including active members of the population, led by a moderator in a controlled environment.
Evidence-based Practices and Strategies
OASAS promotes the improvement of NYS’s substance abuse prevention system by using evidence generated by applied research. Evidence-based practices and strategies (EBPS) are developed using outcome studies to document their effectiveness in preventing substance abuse, violence, delinquency and the risk and protective factors that predict these behaviors. Evidence-based practices and Strategies stand in contrast to approaches based solely on tradition, beliefs, or anecdotal evidence. Increasingly, policy makers, prevention service providers and community coalitions in all fields are seeking effective Evidence to meet their communities’ assessed needs. Increasing the delivery of EBPS to prevent substance abuse is an OASAS statewide priority. OASAS maintains a registry of Evidence-based programs that are approved for providers to use in their delivery of prevention services. The registry includes educational, environmental, and early interventions programs.
OASAS funded providers are currently required to allocate 60% or more of their efforts on the EBPS they have selected based on an annual services planning process. Applying science to practice and also learning from provider experiences results in the best use of public funds: delivering the best results in reducing substance abuse and other youth problem behaviors.
Environmental Strategies Training
Environmental strategies are aimed at changing and managing environments to promote healthy choices and represent an important component of New York State’s community prevention efforts. Comprehensive Environmental Strategy Approach, is a training opportunity presented by OASAS in collaboration with the Northeast and Caribbean Prevention Technology Transfer Center (NeC PTTC), provides a comprehensive overview of the role of environmental prevention strategies within the framework of the Strategic Prevention Framework with examples specific to your geographic area.
The 2-hour training explores three components of environmental strategies: Policy, Enforcement, and Media, with a focus on implementing these strategies comprehensively in your geographic area. Once you are familiar with course materials, open the OASAS Test Portal and take the corresponding exam. If you don't have an OASAS Test Portal login, create an account. Registration is one-time only, takes just a few minutes.
Early Interventions- help youth who have elevated risk factors and are using substances. Two of these EBPs, Teen Intervene and BASICS for college students, are designed to prevent the escalation of substance use and gambling behaviors to levels requiring treatment through early identification, brief intervention and referral.
Educational- designed to improve the risk and protective factors that lead to problem behavior. They teach life and social skills, increase knowledge on addictions, on the consequences of substance use, improve attitudes towards healthy lifestyles and can decrease normative misconceptions regarding peer substance use.
Environmental Strategies- designed to change the community, social, and economic contexts in which people access and use alcohol, tobacco, or other illicit drugs. They are primarily aimed at influencing behavior through the establishment and enforcement of laws, policies, and regulations.