The seven methods for influencing community change have been adopted by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of American (CADCA) as a framework for modifying the environment in which alcohol and drugs are used. The seven strategies include: 1) Provide information, 2) Enhance skills, 3) Provide support, 4) Enhance access/reduce barriers, 5) Change consequences (incentives/disincentives), 6) Change physical design, and 7) Modify/change policies.

The first four strategies help in educating the public, raising awareness about problems and solutions, and assisting individuals to make healthy decisions, including avoiding or reducing substance use while increasing healthy lifestyles. While these first four strategies are sometimes viewed as inadequate for impacting large scale change, research indicates that individually targeted evidence-based prevention programs can have measureable and sustained positive effects on improving lifestyles and enhancing health of youth and communities.

Furthermore, education and support of lifestyle change is known to be critical not only to the success of other environmental strategies, such as understanding and adopting policy and physical changes, but as a requirement for an informed democratic society. In addition, widespread adoption of the first four individually-targeted strategies, even if the effects were small in size, would result in large-scale public health benefit for communities if widely adopted.

Take for example an individually-based strategy like brief motivational interventions that integrate prevention of substance abuse with promotion of wellness lifestyles for youth.

Strategy 1: Information could be provided using PSAs about the epidemic of multiple health risk behaviors among youth in the community and US, and the need for integrated prevention and health programs.

Strategy 2: Youth motivation and skills could be increased to set and monitor multiple health behavior goals by providing brief integrated interventions to young people and families in the community.

Strategy 3: Support for youth to adopt multiple healthy habits as a strategy to prevent substance use could be provided by increasing community fitness, sports, recreational, and educational activities associated with adopting regular physical activity and healthy eating habits, along with getting more sleep and controlling stress in daily life.

Strategy 4: Lastly, access to brief integrated interventions throughout the community could be enhanced and barriers reduced by providing the interventions across varied locations, including primary care settings, after school programs, sports and recreational activities, faith-based settings, and youth and fitness clubs.

Together, the first four strategies for community change could be used to make a significant environmental impact by widely implementing individually-targeted prevention programs such as those integrating substance abuse prevention with wellness promotion. To read more about the seven strategies for influencing community change:


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