Each year, drug abuse and addiction cost taxpayers nearly $534 billion in preventable health care, law enforcement, crime, and other costs. The key word in this assessment is “preventable.” The best approach to reducing the tremendous toll substance abuse exacts from individuals, families, and communities is to prevent the damage before it occurs.

Prevention and early intervention work best. The developmental years might also present opportunities for resiliency and for receptivity to intervention that can alter the course of addiction. We already know many of the risk factors that lead to drug abuse and addiction– mental illness, physical or sexual abuse, aggressive behavior, academic problems, poor social skills, and poor parent-child relations.