Authored by Elliott Redwine, | Medically Reviewed by Peace Valley Recovery Editorial Staff,
Last Updated: August 22, 2021

This year marks the 10th anniversary of National Prevention Week (NPW)! National Prevention Week is dedicated to raising awareness and providing resources to promote alcohol and drug addiction prevention. Communities and organizations across the United States come together to inspire action and offer solutions to the growing problem of addiction.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA, heads the annual observance. This year NPW is May 9 through the 15th and though the events and activities may look a little different this year, the sentiment remains the same. Bringing communities together, whether in person or virtually, will help the fight against drugs and alcohol.

Why do we need National Prevention Week and what can you do to recognize the cause and get involved? Keep reading to learn more about National Prevention Week 2021!

More About National Prevention Week

National Prevention Week started in 2011 as another resource to start the conversation about the impact of addiction. SAMHSA saw the beginning of May as the perfect time to recognize National Prevention Week since it comes right before the start of summer. It’s a time to encourage schools, communities, and professionals to recommit to encouraging drug and alcohol use prevention.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, adolescents and young adults heading to college often try drugs or alcohol for the first time during June or July. Holding NPW at the beginning of summer provides another opportunity to support young people to stand up against the pressures they face. 

When schools and youth organizations recognize National Prevention Week before the start of summer, it leaves adolescents with a lasting awareness. Encouraging them to stay alcohol- and drug-free as the school year ends may keep them from experimenting during the summer months.

Since its introduction, participation in NPW continues growing. SAMHSA uses the week as a way to celebrate the culmination of prevention efforts in communities and organizations around the country. It takes involvement throughout the whole year to keep kids drug-free, not just one week out of the year.

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The National Prevention Week Purpose

SAMHSA set up National Prevention Week focused on three main areas: community involvement, partner engagement, and resource sharing. Each area of focus has its own primary goal:

  • Community Involvement: Raise awareness surrounding substance use and mental health issues in communities, involve them in prevention strategy implementation, and demonstrate the benefits of evidence-based prevention programs
  • Partner Engagement: Build partnerships and encourage collaborations between federal agencies and national organizations committed to improving public health
  • Resource Sharing: Promote quality resources and information about drug and alcohol use prevention and mental health

Along with the areas of focus and individual goals, each day of the week is dedicated to a particular topic of interest. The daily topics for this National Prevention Week are:

  • Monday, May 10th: Preventing Prescription Drug and Opioid Misuse
  • Tuesday, May 11th: Preventing Underage Drinking and Alcohol Misuse
  • Wednesday, May 12th: Preventing Illicit Drug Use and Youth Marijuana Use
  • Thursday, May 13th: Preventing Youth Tobacco, Vaping, and E-Cigarette Use
  • Friday, May 14th: Preventing Suicide

Promoting a wide variety of goals and topics provides organizations with opportunities to start numerous conversations. The more people understand and discuss the pressing topics that adolescents and adults face, the more communities will continue working toward discovering solutions.

SAMHSA encourages organizations to keep these goals in mind not only during National Prevention Week but throughout the entire year. Starting conversations and sharing information are two vital ways to slow the devastating impact of drug and alcohol addiction and mental illness.

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National Prevention Week in Pennsylvania

This year the state of Pennsylvania made significant strides in recognizing National Prevention Week. Governor Tom Wolf issued a formal proclamation that recognized May 9th through the 15th as National Prevention Week in Pennsylvania. His moves to make the week an official observance are a step in the right direction for Pennsylvanians.

Alcohol abuse and drug addiction in Pennsylvania have grown into serious public health concerns during the last decade. Pennsylvania’s commitment to prevention week encourages communities to come together and acknowledge the very real need for substance abuse prevention throughout the state. 

Governor Wolf, along with health organizations throughout the state, outline three major objectives for NPW:

  • Highlight the importance of Primary Prevention
  • Showcase the usefulness of the Pennsylvania Youth Survey (PAYS) and using data to drive decision-making
  • Discuss the impacts of prevention efforts by Single County Authorities and Coalitions in communities across the state

Much like SAMHSA, the CPA uses National Prevention Week in Pennsylvania as a springboard for these urgent conversations. The Commonwealth Prevention Alliance, or CPA, takes the lead on guiding prevention efforts in Pennsylvania. CPA plays an important role for organizations working with communities statewide by sharing resources and hosting conferences each year.

Recognizing the Need for National Prevention Week in PA

Why did Pennsylvania make such a push to recognize National Prevention Week this year? Despite efforts to curb the rising rates of drug abuse and addiction in the state, there’s still more to be done. The COVID-19 pandemic sparked the number of people turning to substances and reignited the issue.

The Commonwealth Prevention Alliance gathered a number of shocking statistics about both substance use in Pennsylvania and in the U.S. as a whole. According to resources from the CPA’s National Prevention Week toolkit:

  • Binge drinkers are 2 times more likely to misuse prescription opioids
  • 1 in 5 prescription opioid deaths involve alcohol
  • Every 48 minutes, 1 person in the U.S. dies from an accident due to alcohol-impaired driving
  • As few as 1 or 2 drinks per day may increase a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer
  • 15 percent of deaths due to breast cancer are linked to alcohol use
  • Vaping rates among 10th and 12th graders in Pennsylvania continue rising
  • 38 percent of 12th graders who drank in the last 30 days reported an adult purchased the alcohol for them
  • 20 percent of 10th and 12th graders reported using marijuana in the past 30 days
  • 25 percent of 6th-12th grade students in Pennsylvania said they sometimes feel like life isn’t worth living

These statistics are only some of the alarming outcomes reported in a few of the many studies available. Until rates of alcohol and drug use slow, as well as the number of people impacted by mental illness, there is still work to do.

Recovery Resources for Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Encouraging communities to come together and push back against the impact of addiction is the first step. Connecting people with the addiction resources they need is the next. The sooner a person receives treatment for their struggles with substances, the better their chance of finding and maintaining recovery.

Treating addiction in Pennsylvania is a vital part of putting a stop to the deadly effects of drugs and alcohol. Do you or someone you know need the help of an addiction treatment program? Facilities throughout the state provide services to those trying to stop using drugs and alcohol and stay substance-free.

Peace Valley Recovery is an addiction treatment facility in Pennsylvania, located in beautiful Bucks County. We work with you or your loved one to create an individualized treatment program tailored to fit your needs. Using a combination of counseling, group therapy, activities, and one-on-one support, Peace Valley equips you with the tools you need to build a strong foundation for recovery.

Want to learn more about the programs we offer? Reach out to us today to speak with an admissions counselor. We’re here to answer your questions, address your concerns, and connect you with the program that’s right for you.

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