Guest Post By: R. Gil Kerlikowske, Director, Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)
This October marks the second annual National Substance Abuse Prevention Month – an observance to highlight the vital role of substance abuse prevention in individual and community health and to remember those who lost their lives to substance abuse. The Office of National Drug Control Policy joins President Obama in celebrating National Substance Abuse Prevention Month and encourages prevention efforts this month and all year long to ensure the health of teens and young adults.
Millions of Americans suffer from substance abuse, which includes underage drinking, alcohol dependency, non-medical use of prescription drugs, abuse of over-the-counter medications, and illicit drug use. Approximately 23 million people aged 12 or older used illicit drugs in 2010. This abuse touches all aspects of our communities and contributes to an estimated $193 billion in crime, health, and lost productivity costs.
Prevention strategies targeting the root of the problem are essential to curb drug use and help people lead healthier lives. Early intervention helps prevent substance abuse and reduce the negative consequences of addiction before they occur. Through community-based efforts involving youth, parents, educators, and government officers, we can strengthen the support systems that deter our Nation’s young people from drug consumption and improve both academic performance and workforce readiness.
Each dollar invested in an evidence-based prevention program can reduce costs related to substance use disorders by an average of $18. Recognizing the power of prevention, we released the 2012 National Drug Control Strategy in April to advance the Administration’s efforts to address substance abuse. The Strategy includes new developments in our efforts to reduce drug use and its consequences and outlines a research-based blueprint to reduce the rate of drug use and drug use consequences by 15 percent over the course of five years (2010-2015).
Throughout National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, we will orchestrate Federal prevention activities and support participation in the observance within states and communities. Our collective efforts are the key to building healthy and safe communities across the country.
I hope you will get involved and join others in their prevention efforts during this month. Learn what resources and coalitions are located near you. Visit our prevention page for more information, and read the President’s 2012 proclamation here.
We know that prevention works, and with your help, we can help keep Americans safe and healthy.
Revised: 10/3/2012 @ 10:04 a.m. EDT
 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2011). Results from the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Vol. I. Summary of national findings, (Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, NSDUH Series H 41, HHS Publication No. SMA 11 4658). Rockville, MD: SAMHSA.
 National Drug Intelligence Center.(2011).The economic impact of illicit drug use on American society. Washington, D.C.: United States Department of Justice
 Miller, T., & Hendrie, D.(2009).Substance abuse prevention dollars and cents: a cost-benefit analysis. DHHS Pub. No.(SMA) 07-4298.Rockville, MD: Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.