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What is Substance Use Prevention?

Prevention and early intervention strategies can reduce the impact of substance use and mental disorders. Prevention activities work to educate and support individuals and communities to prevent the use and misuse of drugs and the development of substance use disorders. Substance use (and mental disorders) can make daily activities difficult and impair a person’s ability to work, interact with family, and fulfill other major life functions. Mental and substance use disorders are among the top conditions that cause disability in the United States. Preventing mental and/or substance use disorders or co-occurring disorders and related problems is critical to behavioral and physical health. (SAMHSA) 

Why do we do Substance Use Prevention?

Evidence-based prevention interventions, especially those that focus on early childhood, do more than decrease drug use; they also reduce mental health problems and crime and promote academic motivation and achievement. Thus these programs can have tremendous, long-term benefits for the children and families they serve, as well as for society as a whole. (Addiction Policy Forum)

Who implements programs and activities rooted in Substance Use Prevention Strategies?

In Missoula County, there are many organizations that provide Prevention-based strategies and programs.

Missoula Public Health houses Substance Use Prevention Coordinators who focus on prevention efforts for youth and adults through their Healthy People Health Families division:

Drive Safe Missoula: Prevention of impaired driving and the promotion of safer roads.

Healthy Missoula Youth: Prevent the potential harms related to early substance use.

Missoula Prescription Drug Task Force: Reducing the prevalence and consequences of prescription drug and opioid misuse

Perinatal Substance Use Network: A community collaborative seeking to reduce child removals due to substance use during and after pregnancy.

Tobacco Free Missoula County: Addressing the Public Health Crisis caused by the use of all forms of Commercial Tobacco Products

Project Tomorrow Montana: Reduce the number of suicides and suicide attempts through collaborative efforts that promote, support, and increase awareness, prevention, intervention, and recovery.

Local Youth-based Programs

While many youth-based programs are not specifically aimed at substance use prevention, the very nature of youth becoming involved in local activities (like dance, theater, afterschool clubs) and sports builds skills and interests that provide youth with alternatives to becoming involved with substances at an early age. Missoula-Based Programs Include:

All Nations Health Center - Youth Suicide Prevention Specialist

Boys and Girls Club - After-School Program: a fun and safe place for kids to be when school is not in session

Missoula YMCA - When you join the Y, you're joining more than a gym—you're joining a community of people dedicated to building a stronger, healthier Missoula for all.

Missoula Parks and Recreation - serves the citizens of Missoula with quality recreation programs, well-maintained parks and trails, and an abundance of open space lands.

The Frenchtown Community Coalition (FCC) is an underage substance abuse prevention coalition located in Frenchtown, MT.

EmpowerMT creates a more just and inclusive society by developing youth and adult leaders who work to end mistreatment, correct systemic inequalities and strengthen communities across Montana.

Brightways Learning - Creating and supporting programs for youth engagement, curriculum management, performance evaluation, and personalized learning programs.

Friends of the Children - Hire and train Friends (professional mentor) whose full-time jobs are to support our youth to succeed, despite the extremely challenging situations most experience, from as early as age 4 through high school graduation – 12+ years,

Partnership for Children - Work with families who have experienced significant early childhood trauma. Our relational developmental treatment approach is based on the belief that healing and growth for children comes through healthy, trusting adult/child relationships.

Western Montana Mental Health Center - Youth Prevention Services: Promote wellness through interventions that educate and support communities

State Resources

Western Montana Mental Health Center - prevention services promote wellness through interventions that educate and support communities. 

The Montana Meth Project is a large-scale prevention program aimed at reducing first-time teen Meth use through public service messaging, public policy, and community outreach.

Montana 2-1-1 provides information and connects people to resources for non-emergency needs, via an easy-to-remember phone number (2-1-1) and a website (

The Ombudsman represents the interests of Montanans seeking access to public mental health services.

The Bright App is a statewide, mobile-friendly web application that houses information on Montana’s mental health counselors and other mental health service providers. 

National Resources

Court Appointed Special Advocate® (CASA) and guardian ad litem (GAL) volunteers are appointed by judges to advocate for children’s best interests. This best-interest advocacy makes a life-changing difference for children and youth who have experienced abuse or neglect, many of whom are in foster care.

NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

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