Author: John Carter

A Proclamation on National Youth Substance Use Prevention Month, 2021

drug prevention month

This October marks the second annual National Substance Abuse Prevention Month – an observance to highlight the vital role of substance abuse prevention in both individual and community health and to remember those who have 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. NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 2021 as National Youth Substance Use Prevention Month. I call on communities, parents, caregivers, educators, employers, healthcare professionals, law enforcement officials, faith and community leaders, and all Americans to take action to promote evidence-based prevention and improve the health of our Nation. Far too many families across our Nation have been impacted by addiction and the overdose epidemic. In 2020, more than 93,000 people died from an overdose — 93,000 families forced to bury a piece of their souls.

  1. Participate in National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week® (NDAFW) and help share facts about drugs, alcohol, and addiction in your community.
  2. Substance use disorder touches families in every community, and it is essential that we invest in a broad range of services, including prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery support services for mental health and substance use.
  3. Scientists are trying to untangle and understand how alcohol and drugs change the brain (neurochemically and physiologically) and how these changes manifest in drug and alcohol addiction.
  4. We owe it to all those who are struggling with substance use or who have lost a loved one to overdose to finally put an end to this crisis.

Over the past 2 years, we have seen immense progress, but there is still work to do. That means we are investing in what works — prevention, treatment, and recovery support. My Fiscal Year 2024 budget called for $3.5 billion for prevention programming for youth — an increase of more than $800 million from last year — so we can keep America’s children safe from the harms of substance use and fentanyl poisoning. Here you will find links to information, tools, and resources on yearly observances related to our drug overdose topics that are meant to inform the public and spread awareness.

Awareness and Health Observances

Beyond the classroom, my Administration is supporting Drug-Free Communities coalitions in all 50 States so that local communities can acquire the tools and resources they need to prevent youth substance use. But prevention also means increasing awareness about the dangers of illicit fentanyl, which fuels the vast majority of overdoses in youth. So, my Administration launched a social media campaign to educate youth on the dangers of this deadly drug and the lifesaving effects of opioid-reversal medications like Naloxone.

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. Together, we can create a culture where substance use prevention is recognized — not just in October, but year-round! Throughout National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, ONDCP will orchestrate Federal prevention activities and support participation in the observance within states and communities.

The impact of this crisis echoes in communities across the Nation, in the empty chairs in classrooms and around kitchen tables. During National Youth Substance Use Prevention Month, we reaffirm our commitment to helping America’s youth overcome this epidemic and lead healthy, fulfilling lives. Today’s young people represent the most gifted, talented, and tolerant generation in American history. During National Youth Substance Use Prevention Month, we recommit to providing families, educators, and communities with access to lifesaving resources.

This included wearing and sharing 15,000 red ribbons, as well as through social media messages spoken from the heart of brave young people who felt inspired to spread hope on topics like naloxone. SAMHSA’s mission is to lead public health and service delivery efforts that promote mental health, prevent substance misuse, and provide treatments and supports to foster recovery while ensuring equitable access and better outcomes. Participate in National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week® (NDAFW) and help share facts about drugs, alcohol, and addiction in your community. NDAFW is an annual health observance that inspires dialogue about the science of drug use and addiction among youth. NDAFW provides an opportunity to bring together scientists, students, educators, healthcare providers, and community partners to help advance the science and address youth drug and alcohol use in communities and nationwide. Sign up for NDAFW email updates below, and find lots of great resources for planning and promoting your very own NDAFW event.

drug prevention month

Despite the availability of effective behavioral and pharmacological treatments for SUD, these treatments remain largely under-utilized (often due to social stigma, see below). Pharmacological treatments for opioid use disorder – such as methadone and buprenorphine – are among the most effective treatments for addiction. Approved pharmacological treatment options for alcohol use disorder include disulfiram, acamprosate, and naltrexone, an opioid receptor antagonist. Importantly, if someone has a physical dependence on alcohol, and they are looking to discontinue use, they should consult a physician before discontinuing alcohol use. Because of the way alcohol modifies brain circuits and neurotransmission, quitting “cold turkey” can result in seizures and even death.

Looking for Treatment?

My Administration has invested over $169 billion in total for drug control policies and programs, including programs to expand evidence-based prevention programs for our youth. In schools, we are working to hire and train more mental health counselors, social workers, and other health professionals supporting students. We are providing educators and school-based medical professionals with resources to prevent substance use and fatal overdoses.

drug prevention month

This month is also a time to acknowledge those in recovery, as well as children, parents, family, and friends supporting them. Prevention and treatment of drug overdoses improve when we raise our voices as one. Red Ribbon Week — recognized each year from October — is the nation’s largest and longest-running substance use prevention campaign. Since its beginning in 1985, it has touched the lives of millions of people around the world. is the U.S. government website that helps you create, maintain, and strengthen effective youth programs. Included are youth facts, funding information, and tools to help you assess community assets, generate maps of local and federal resources, search for evidence-based youth programs, and keep up-to-date on the latest, youth-related news.

Learn About National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week® (NDAFW)

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. Globally, drug and alcohol use and misuse lead to enormous societal and economic burdens. The economic impact of substance misuse is estimated at over $440 billion dollars in the US alone. Last year in the US there were a record number of drug overdose deaths, including over 3,000 overdose deaths in NC during 2020.

Engagement Opportunities for Prevention Month

Every young person deserves to live a full and healthy life and have every opportunity to reach their highest potential. Together, we can continue to support the power of prevention and stimulate health-enhancing choices. Please consider making a donation to SAFE Project in support of our prevention and Red Ribbon distribution efforts. Make SAFE Choices.” This reinforces our SAFE Choices goal of ensuring young people have the information and tools necessary for making meaningful choices, and enable them to reach their full potential.

Last year, our Nation lost nearly 111,000 Americans to fatal overdoses — 1,000 of those lost to overdose were children and adolescents less than 18 years old. No family should have to know the pain of losing a child to the opioid and overdose epidemic. We owe it to all those who are struggling with substance use or who have lost a loved one to overdose to finally put an end to this crisis. During National Youth Substance Use Prevention Month, we rededicate ourselves to building a better future for America’s children.

My Administration is also committed to advancing racial equity in our approach to drug policy — implementing fairer, more effective, and more culturally resonant policies to prevent, address, and treat substance use disorder. That is why we are supporting the development of tailored tools that strengthen prevention efforts in diverse communities. These include racial equity trainings, resources on inclusion and diversity, and racial equity decision-making frameworks. By advancing equity in every part of our society — including our education, health care, criminal justice, and housing systems — we can build a future where all Americans can lead healthy and fulfilling lives. It is one of the most pressing issues facing our Nation that we must all tackle together.

The Red Ribbon Campaign serves as a catalyst to mobilize communities, educate youth and encourage participation in drug prevention activities. The simple wearing of a red ribbon is a visible act that shows your support for safe and healthy choices. With this collective action in mind, we are offering — at no cost — red ribbons to distribute to your networks. The month of October signifies National Substance Use Prevention Month — a time for communities to come together as partners in prevention.