Prevention is achieved through the application of multiple strategies. It is an ongoing process that must relate to each merging generation.

Students in fall

At the ATOD Prevention Center, we believe prevention is:

  • The development of social and physical environments that facilitate drug-free lifestyles
  • The promotion of constructive lifestyles and norms that discourage drug use


What is prevention?

Prevention is a proactive process which empowers individuals and systems to meet the challenges of life events and transitions by creating and reinforcing healthy behavior and lifestyles by reducing risks contributing to alcohol, tobacco, and other drug misuse.

At the ATOD Prevention Center, we use multiple public health models to frame our prevention and education based work. This allows us to ensure that our strategies are empirically based and culturally informed. Below, some of the framework models we use are outlined.

Theories of Prevention 

The SPF is a community-level, data-driven process that guides prevention experts through the steps needed to successfully address substance concerns in context. There are five steps the model including:

1. Assessment

2. Capacity

3. Planning

4. Implementation

5. Evaluation

The model is guided by the principles of sustainability (e.g. the process of building an adaptive and effective system that achieves and maintains desired long-term results) and cultural competence (e.g. the ability of an individual or organization to interact effectively with members of diverse population groups).

Five stages or steps are used to alter personal behavioral patterns and lead to long-term change:

  1. Precontemplation: being unaware of or refusing to acknowledge the risks
  2. Contemplation: beginning to consider a change and weighing the costs and benefits
  3. Preparation: deciding on and planning for a change in behavior
  4. Action: implementing a plan to change and beginning a new behavior
  5. Maintenance: reinforcing and making a habit of a new behavior

People can move from one stage to the next when they receive and process information. Some may even “downgrade” to a previous step.

This model emphasizes the active involvement and development of communities to address health and social problems

Key features include:

  • Understanding the root cause of problems
  • Focusing on specific concerns
  • Engaging in effective problem solving
  • Encouraging active community participation
  • Gaining the power to produce lasting change 

The socio-ecological model describes the interaction between, and interdependence of, factors within and across all levels of a health problem. It highlights people’s interactions with their physical and sociocultural environments.

Harm reduction

What is harm reduction? 

"A set of ideas and practices aimed at reducing the harms associated with drugs and other risky behaviors and promoting positive change without requiring abstinence. Interventions truly start where the person is, with their goals, motivations, and unique needs in mind. Risky behavior is recognized to fall on a continuum of risk and negative consequences. Rather than the singular focus of abstinence, the goal becomes any positive change toward reduced risk" (Tartarsky, 2019). 

Additional Information 

ATOD Peer Educators 

ATOD peer educators are undergraduate students who receive training and provide education around substance use issues to the campus community. Through an interview process students are selected to serve as peer educators for a full academic year. For more information contact Anna Lloyd at