Early intervention can pay off

Early interventions in a child’s life can have a profound impact on delaying and reducing drug use when they become adolescents.

With that aim in mind, the National Institute On Drug Abuse has compiled a comprehensive guide that takes researchers and practitioners through what’s needed to intervene in a child’s life in its beginning years to provide a good foundation for healthy behaviors and the avoidance of drug and alcohol addiction.

The guide is focused on the structures and conditions necessary in the first eight years of a child’s life based on data from 17 evidence-based prevention programs. School, community, and most importantly, family environments early on in a child’s life play an integral role in providing conditions that can help steer children away from emotional, behavioral and academic problems that can contribute to substance abuse later on in life.

The guide examines how providing a warm, supportive home for a child early can help them develop stronger self-regulation abilities, an integral part of attachment theory that says stability in one’s early years can pave the way for a healthier adulthood. This kind of emotional control can translate later when they are teens into resistance to risky behaviors and peer pressure that might otherwise steer them down the road of substance abuse.

While data is lacking on years later than adolescence it is suggested once these early foundations of healthy behavior and emotional regulation are laid, they last into adulthood.  These early interventions may not completely deter any drug use by adolescents but reduce it and delay experimenting with substances, which is important because the early youth get addicted, the longer they are likely to remain addicted as adults.


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