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ATOD Prevention Planning Tutorial

This Web site provides a tutorial program regarding alcohol, tobacco, and other drug (ATOD) use prevention planning. The program is designed to aid Virginia's community planners—from a variety of agencies—by proposing a strategy to prevent ATOD use among youth. This strategy follows a basic public health problem-response approach that includes the following steps:

  • Step 1: Defining the Problem,
  • Step 2: Identifying Risk and Protective Factors, and
  • Step 3: Identifying and Implementing Interventions.

This Web site includes links to information that prevention planners in Virginia localities can use for Steps 1 and 2. This site also includes information and links to other Web sites that can help with completing Step 3.

Overview of the Prevention Planning Process

The first steps involve assessing ATOD use and related problems (labeled as outcomes on the charts included in this Web site) and identifying risk and protection at the community level. Prevention planners can then work collaboratively within their communities to design effective prevention strategies. This part of the prevention planning process involves assessing your community resources and identifying gaps and ineffective programs. Information on effective programs addressing specific risk and protective factors can be accessed by using the links provided in Step 3.

Uri Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Model of Human Development is useful for understanding the interplay of risk and protective factors in designing ATOD prevention programs. As indicated in the graphic below, forces impact on a developing child at levels that include the individual, family, school, and community. In the graphic, the concentric circles surrounding the individual represent the sources of risk or the sources of protection. Each circle is nested within the others. Note that individual risk and protective factors cluster around personality or psychosocial characteristics, attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors. Family factors may include a family history of ATOD abuse; school-related factors include the youth's sense of connectedness to the school; and community risk factors include the availability of ATODs and norms related to ATOD use.

Image of ATOD Circle

Based on Bronfenbrenner, U. 1979. The Ecology of Human Development. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

There is a transactional process between and among levels in this model. Peers and community norms may influence individual behavior. Similarly, family may influence the individual and also be influenced by community variables (e.g., employment). A parent's level of educational attainment may influence how empowered he feels that he is able to affect community change.

Based on this model, community ATOD prevention efforts can help keep youth from ATOD use—by reducing or eliminating risk factors, where possible, as well as by enhancing the protective factors that buffer youth against exposure to risk.

How to Use this Web Site

The sections that follow provide information and ask questions to guide you through the first two steps of the prevention planning process: defining the problem and identifying risk and protective factors. Pull-down menus in each section allow you to access information derived from the Family of Needs Assessment Studies completed by the Virginia Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation, and Substance Abuse Services (DMHMRSAS). These studies were designed to enhance Virginia's capacity to develop a Comprehensive Prevention Plan—that is theory-based and uses reliable and consistent data collection procedures.

As you review information provided in each section and think about the questions posed, you will be directed to access Virginia ATOD-related problem (outcome) information in chart form, as well as information regarding risk and protective factors. Some information is available by locality, other information is available by Health Planning Region (HPR).

Type of Information by Locality/Health Planning Region (HPR) and Source
By Locality and HPR

– Problem behaviors

– Risk factors

from Archival Social Indicator Study

– Youth ATOD use

– Problem behaviors

– Risk & protective factors

from Community Youth Survey

All data compare the locality/HPR with data for the Commonwealth. (Note that the Community Youth Survey was conducted in HPRs I through IV. For HPR V, only statewide survey data are available on this Web site.)

At each step in the process, you can indicate your locality of interest from a pull-down menu. This will link you to information relevant to the specific county, city, town, or HPR you select. After examining your locality/HPR information, you may return to the section on the step you were reviewing, or you may return to the tutorial's home page (buttons are provided for these options). You can then proceed to the next section of this tutorial program.

You will begin with Step 1: Defining the Problem. In Step 2, you will identify priority risk and protective factors for your locality or HPR. In Step 3, the information provided will help you to identify ATOD prevention programs for implementation in your community.


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