On January 16, 2020, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration released “Prevention with Purpose,” a strategic planning guide aimed at helping colleges and universities curb drug misuse on their campuses.
Higher education administrators and drug abuse prevention professionals face the daunting task of minimizing the likelihood that their students are misusing drugs. Having a smart, well-defined strategy can be instrumental in successfully meeting this objective. This guide is designed to provide helpful information on crafting, implementing, and measuring the success of such a strategy.
The guide begins with an overview of the current drug misuse prevention landscape, including relevant federal laws like FERPA, HIPAA, and the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act. The guide also discusses emerging trends in drug use on campuses, high risk student groups, and the impact of the college/university environment on drug use.
This background helps to contextualize the guide’s main purpose: to give college and university drug prevention professionals the tools to create successful and sustainable prevention programs that are proactive rather than reactive – programs that are designed to keep students safe throughout the school year, rather than one-off programs created under pressure or in response to a tragedy. The DEA recommends using the five-step Strategic Prevention Framework to accomplish this goal:
- Assessment – Identifying local prevention needs based on substance misuse data collected from students on your campus.
- Capacity – Building local resources and readiness by engaging community stakeholders and raising community awareness.
- Planning – Finding out what works to address prevention needs by designing a program that is evidence-based, practical, and a good fit for your campus culture.
- Implementation – Delivering a program that is true to your plans while also maintaining adaptability.
- Evaluation – Examining the implementation process and outcomes of your program.
Higher education professionals, especially those on compliance and prevention teams, should be aware of the steps recommended in this guide. A link to the document is included here.