Principles of Substance Abuse Prevention for Early Childhood

Last Updated: Tuesday, June 26, 2018


Substance use usually begins during the teen years, but it has known biological, psychological, social, and environmental roots that begin even before birth. Principles of Substance Abuse Prevention for Early Childhood is an online guide about interventions in early childhood that can help prevent drug use and other unhealthy behaviors. The guide offers research-based principles that affect a child’s self-control and overall mental health, starting during pregnancy through eight years old.

Principles of Substance Abuse Prevention for Early Childhood addresses the major influences on a child’s early development such as lack of school readiness skills, insecure attachment issues, and signs of uncontrolled aggression in childhood behaviors. Special attention is given to a child’s most vulnerable periods during sensitive transitions, such as a parents’ divorce, moving to a new home, or starting school. There is strong evidence that a stable home environment, adequate nutrition, physical and cognitive stimulation, and supportive parenting can lead to good developmental outcomes.

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"Thanks to more than three decades of research into what makes a young child able to cope with life’s inevitable stresses, we now have unique opportunities to intervene very early in life to prevent substance use disorders," said NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D. "We now know that early intervention can set the stage for more positive self-regulation as children prepare for their school years."

Principles of Substance Abuse Prevention for Early Childhood is published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institute of Health.

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