National Prevention Week - What is substance misuse?

National Prevention Week (NPW) is a national public education platform showcasing the work of communities and organizations across the country dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of substance misuse prevention and positive mental health. We hope to prevent substance misuse, promote health, and show that prevention works. Learn more: About National Prevention Week | SAMHSA 

What is substance misuse? 

Substance misuse is using substances like alcohol, illegal drugs, over the counter medication or prescription medication that are not meant to be used. Substance misuse can happen one time, occasionally, and can develop into a substance use disorder. Misusing substances regularly can change the way the brain functions and can lead to problems with physical, emotional and financial well-being.  

Addiction is a lot like other diseases, like heart disease. It disrupts the normal healthy function of organs in the body and creates harmful effects which may last a lifetime or can lead to death. With continued use, it can change a person's ability to exert self-control. Misuse signs are taking a dose at the wrong time, missing a dose, stopping medication sooner than recommended, using medication not prescribed to you, using a drug for a reason other than its intended purpose. 

Common misused substances are illegal/illicit drugs, tobacco, alcohol, painkillers, sleeping pills, cold remedies, solvents, aerosols, gases, and glue. 

Risk Factors are aggressive behavior in childhood, lack of parental supervision, low peer refusal skills, drug experimentation, availability of drugs at school, community poverty.

Protective factors are self-efficacy, parental monitoring and support, positive relationships, good grades, school anti-drug policies, neighborhood resources.

Learn more: Substance Misuse | Cystic Fibrosis Foundation ( 

Destigmatizing Mental Health: Mental health disorders are very common today. 1 in 5 adults in America experience mental illness. There a lot of stigma surrounding mental health issues and it makes it harder for those people to cope or recover. The stigma surrounding mental health issues are prejudice and discrimination, negative associations or feelings, the perception that mental illnesses are dangerous, incompetent, irrational or untrustworthy, and those with mental illnesses are "broken" or "not normal".  Learn more about Language and Stigma.

Learn more about harm reduction at: Safe Greenfield