Bringing Effective Substance Abuse Programs into the Trenches

Conference on prevention of substance abuse

Pyramid Communications, a communications and public affairs company based in Seattle, facilitated a two-day substance abuse prevention conference, "Prevention 2000: Moving Effective Programs into Practice."

Key Results

  • Held October 30–31, 2000, in St. Michael's, Md. the conference's goal was to explore what needed to take place to move effective substance abuse prevention programs into practice. Conference, participants made the following recommendations for improving substance abuse prevention:
    • Coordinate school-based and community prevention efforts.
    • Integrate prevention efforts with academic curricula, stressing that prevention programs contribute to academic success.
    • Maximize available resources by coordinating efforts across agencies and disciplines.
    • Develop standard definitions and a common understanding of program goals.
    • Employ new technologies to reach people with prevention messages.
    • Disseminate science-based information about the most effective prevention efforts.
    • Increase funding, training, and support for prevention researchers and practitioners.

Follow-up Work

Discussions during the conference revealed that existing research was not sufficient and that further discussion was necessary in order to move effective prevention programs into practice. Pyramid Communications then facilitated the formation of three working groups — adaptation, dissemination, and integration — to continue the discussions begun during the conference.

This work was done using Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) consultant funds (ID# 041887).

Pyramid organized three conference calls and one meeting, and prepared a report that summarized the discussions.

Working group members disagreed about whether research or program implementation was needed; some members suggested that both are needed and can be pursued simultaneously. The working groups agreed that prevention efforts should cut across agencies and disciplines.

  • The Adaptation Working Group detailed the shortfalls of prevention research and how the lack of guidelines hurts program effectiveness; it noted that RWJF could help by focusing research attention on the principles behind effective programming, rather than programs.
  • The Dissemination Working Group generated ideas for developing standard definitions and disseminating science-based information, and clarified practitioners' role in identifying effective practices.
  • The Integration Working Group explored how best to organize community prevention efforts, stating that RWJF could bring together organizations that are already developing pieces of the organizing process.


RWJF supported the project with a grant of $146,740 between July 2000 and May 2001.

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