Universal, Selective and Indicated Evidence-based Substance Use Prevention with Wellness Programs

Universal, Selective and Indicated Evidence-based Substance Use Prevention with Wellness Programs

Prevention Plus Wellness, LLC provides evidence-based and evidence-informed programs and training that can be used as universal, selective and indicated substance use prevention strategies that also promote healthy behaviors and self-images among youth and young adults. 

Universal prevention refers to approaches designed for an entire population without regard to individual risk factors.  Selective prevention is when strategies are targeted to one or more subgroups of a population determined to be at risk for substance abuse.  Indicated prevention is when interventions are aimed at individuals showing signs of substance abuse or problems. 

Evidence-based programs and practices are those that have been evaluated and proven to result in positive outcomes.  Evidence-informed programs and practices are those adopted from or founded upon evidence-based programs, practices and related research. 

The following provides examples of evidence-based and evidence-informed programs for each of the three types of prevention.

Universal Prevention 

Prevention Plus Wellness (PPW) provides eight universal substance use prevention with wellness programs designed for all youth and young adult populations.  Because most programs are single-session screening and brief interventions they are feasible even in busy school and community settings. 

In addition, most PPW programs promote healthy behaviors and associated positive, future images which youth, parents and providers find appealing and desirable.  These include physical activity, healthy nutrition, sleep and stress control habits known to promote mental and physical health among youth and adults.  Additional flexibility is provided because most PPW programs come with scripts to implement them to youth either individually or in a group.

Two evidence-based universal prevention with wellness programs shown to prevent substance use and increase wellness behaviors include the: 

  • SPORT Prevention Plus Wellness single-session screening and brief intervention in versions for high school, middle school and elementary school youth in both manual and parent formats; and the
  • InShape Prevention Plus Wellness single-session screening and brief intervention for college students and other young adults (e.g., US military) in both manual and parent formats. 

Six evidence-informed universal prevention with wellness programs based on the above two evidence-based interventions include: 

  1. SPORT 2 Prevention Plus Wellness a six-session program with editions for high school, middle school and elementary school youth, 
  2. Vaping Prevention Plus Wellness program with versions for high school, middle school and elementary school youth and parents, 
  3. Marijuana Prevention Plus Wellness program in high school, middle school and elementary school and parent versions,
  4. Opioid Prevention Plus Wellness program with editions for adolescents, high risk men and high risk women and parents,
  5. Racial Justice Prevention Plus Wellness single-session program for adolescents, and the
  6. In God’s Image Prevention Plus Wellness single-session program for faith-based settings.  

Selective Prevention 

While most Prevention Plus Wellness programs were originally developed for implementation with all youth populations, one study evaluating SPORT Prevention Plus Wellness among older adolescents found that youth who already were using drugs and who received SPORT PPW showed larger positive substance use effect sizes than those not already using drugs, even a year after intervention. 

Specifically, published results indicated that one-year after intervention, substance using youth receiving SPORT PPW showed significant: 

  • reductions in binge drinking,
  • reductions in frequency of cigarette smoking,
  • reductions in marijuana use,
  • reductions in the initiation of cigarette use,
  • reductions in initiation of marijuana use,
  • increases in vigorous exercise, and
  • increases in moderate physical activity. 

These findings indicate that the SPORT Prevention Plus Wellness program, as well as other PPW interventions, hold promise as selective interventions for high risk drug using young people.  Prevention Plus Wellness interventions may produce positive effects even greater and longer lasting than those produced among general youth and young adult populations. 

For this reason organizations across the US are using PPW programs for high-risk youth, such as those caught using alcohol, marijuana or e-cigarettes on campus and youth in community diversion programs.

Indicated Prevention 

Prevention Plus Wellness programs may also be useful in preventing further escalation of substance abuse and problems among youth and young adults because they are founded on evidence-based screening and brief intervention practice.  In addition, all PPW programs target health-promoting behaviors recognized as critical to successful substance abuse intervention, treatment and recovery. 

Prevention Plus Wellness programs include online and paper pre and post-program surveys to evaluate their immediate effects on critical factors predictive of substance use and health-promoting behaviors.  In addition, an online Health Behavior pre-posttest survey is provided to assess program effects on multiple substance use and health-promoting behaviors as well as key substance use risk and protective factors. 

These and other evaluations tools included with PPW programs allow their implementation to be monitored and evaluated for their effectiveness as universal, selective and indicated prevention strategies in any setting and with any youth or young adult population.

Training Options

Prevention Plus Wellness offers 2-hour online or onsite program implementer, as well as training of trainer, workshops to help prevention and health specialists implement and train other providers or parents to implement PPW programs to youth and young adults with fidelity and maximum effectiveness.  Free webinars are also provided most weeks sharing the latest program insights and research about integrated substance use prevention with wellness programs that promote the whole health of young people.


Prevention Plus Wellness evidence-based and evidence-informed programs can be used for general populations of all youth and young adults as universal prevention strategies uniquely designed to also promote healthy behaviors and self-images necessary for improving mental and physical well-being.   

Research suggests that PPW programs may be efficacious as selective prevention strategies among young people at greater risk for experiencing substance abuse, such as those already using alcohol or drugs.

In addition, because all Prevention Plus Wellness programs use evidence-based practices screening and brief interventions and promote wellness-enhancing behaviors known to support successful treatment and recovery, they hold promise as useful indicated interventions as well.

Easy to implement online as well as paper surveys included with Prevention Plus Wellness programs permit prevention and health specialists, organizations and communities to monitor and evaluate the pre-posttest program impacts of PPW interventions as universal, selective and indicated strategies to prevent substance use and promote wellness lifestyles among youth and young adults.

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