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The Importance of Substance Abuse Prevention Month: Focusing on Prevention and Support

Since its official declaration in October 2011, Substance Abuse Prevention Month has served as a crucial annual reminder to spotlight the critical importance of preventing substance abuse, both at the individual and community levels. It’s an opportunity not only to raise awareness about Substance Abuse Prevention but also to acknowledge the intertwined nature of mental health and substance abuse issues. This month also offers the opportunity to honor those who have lost their lives to substance use, applaud those in active recovery, and extend gratitude to the children, families, and friends who steadfastly support those facing substance abuse challenges.

Empowering Families: The Family Partners Program

Children’s Aid Society of Alabama’s Family Partners program stands as a beacon of support for individuals affected by substance abuse, offering comprehensive services over a 6-to-9-month timeframe. Family Partners team members are available to the families we serve around the clock, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Covering Jefferson and Shelby Counties, as well as 19 additional counties across Northwest and Southwest Alabama (including Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Fayette, Lamar, Marion, Walker, Winston, Baldwin, Choctaw, Clark, Conecuh, Escambia, Mobile, Monroe, and Washington), Family Partners collaborates closely with the Alabama Department of Human Resources for referrals.

Moreover, all Family Partners team members have earned substance abuse recovery coaching certification by the Association for Addiction Professionals, and are proud to deliver proven Recovery Coaching, a powerful form of strengths-based support for individuals grappling with addictions or in recovery from alcohol or other drugs. Our dedicated recovery coaches work tirelessly with individuals at all stages of addiction, providing invaluable guidance in decision-making and goal setting within the context of their addiction or recovery journey. Ultimately, our coaches empower clients to navigate their own path towards addiction cessation or, if applicable, to minimize harm associated with addictive behaviors. Family Partners intervention has been an integral part of many successful family reunification stories, and we are grateful to serve our communities.

Studies show that the earlier an individual initiates substance use significantly impacts the likelihood of developing addiction. Additional research reveals that early substance use correlates with a higher risk of developing a substance use disorder. It’s noteworthy that 9 out of 10 people struggling with alcohol or drug addiction began using these substances before turning 18. Specifically, those who initiated substance use before age 15 are nearly seven times more likely to grapple with a substance problem compared to those who delayed their first use until age 21 or older. Each year that substance use initiation is postponed during the crucial period of adolescent brain development, the risk of addiction and substance abuse significantly decreases. This research highlights the importance of discussing substance use with youth early and often to help them understand the long-term impacts of substance use. To that end, we’d like to encourage parents, especially foster and adoptive parents to attend Children’s Aid Society of Alabama’s, Alabama Pre/Post Adoption Connections, (APAC) training program’s free webinar on October 17th, Adoption & Addiction: What I Wish I Had Known. Further, the Alabama Department of Mental Health will help connect families with supportive substance use treatment services. Together, we can help create a more informed Alabama and mitigate the multiple ill effects of substance use for children and families in Alabama.



Marianne Phillips