Five Points for New Hampshire's Future
invest in evidence informed prevention programs
- Recognize that investments in early childhood wellbeing (access to healthcare, early intervention services and quality childcare, for example) result in delayed initiation and decreased use of drugs by adolescents.
- Strengthen New Hampshire’s capacity to promote healthy social, emotional and physical development of infants, toddlers, other young children and their families and to provide mental health services and supports.
- Support evidenced informed prevention strategies such as student assistance programs in schools and fully funded juvenile diversion programs.
- Support evidence informed drug and alcohol screening of New Hampshire youth.
- Offer age appropriate, evidenced informed substance misuse prevention curriculum in all schools.
- Support ongoing collection of youth data through the Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
Substance abuse and addiction are preventable disorders. While substance use generally begins during the adolescent years, there are known biological, psychological, social, and environmental factors that contribute to the risk that begin accumulating as early as the prenatal period. This creates opportunities to intervene very early in an individual’s life and thereby prevent substance use disorders—and, along with them, a range of other related behavioral problems—long before they would normally manifest themselves. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, various factors can contribute to risk starting as early as the prenatal period. A growing body of research shows that providing a stable home environment, adequate nutrition, physical and cognitive stimulation, warm supportive parenting, and good classroom management in the early years of a child’s life (prenatal through age 8) protects against a multitude of risks and increase the likelihood of positive developmental outcomes. Positive effects of these interventions include delayed initiation and decreased use of drugs when the child reaches adolescence. New Hampshire must adopt and build on existing evidence informed prevention practices, programs and policies that cover the lifespan of a child’s development.