Health Promotion & Prevention
Health promotion is the process of enhancing the capacity of individuals and communities to take control over their lives and improve their health. We address health promotion issues within various populations and settings. A range of strategies is used including policy initiatives, environmental strategies, community partnerships as well as lifestyle and public education initiatives.
An important factor when looking at the overall health of a population is considering the determinants of health. Determinants of health are factors impacting on living and working conditions conducive to health. Among the determinants of health are housing, education, genetics, income, employment, culture, physical environment, equity, gender and race.
Our focus is on the health needs of individuals, families and communities and improving their quality of life by influencing the determinants of health; increasing protective factors and decreasing risk factors. We offer services to individuals, families and communities that are at all stages across the health risk continuum; from those individuals who have never used substances or gambled to those more harmfully affected by substance use and/or problem gambling.
What is Prevention?
Universal (Primary) Prevention Programs:
- Target the entire population
- Aim to promote the health of the population or prevent or delay onset of substance use
- Children, youth, as well as parents and families are often the audience
- Schools are common settings for universal programs
Selective (Secondary) Prevention Programs:
- Target “at-risk” individuals
- Aim to modify risks and reduce problems associated with substance use
Indicated (Tertiary) Prevention Programs:
- Target “high-risk” individuals who use alcohol and/or other drugs on a regular basis
- Aim to reduce harms related to lifestyle
Ideally, a combination of Universal, Selected and Indicated programs should be implemented and adapted within communities. Policies and programs need to work together.
- Appropriate policies and legislation (such as taxation) are very effective prevention strategies
- Targeted approaches need to be combined with legislation, policy awareness, education and enforcement
Alcohol and tobacco policies designed to reduce consumption and harms are among the most effective strategies in preventing or reducing use in the general population, as well as in reducing the associated harms.
Reducing the demand for a substance and the supply of a substance results in less harms associated with the use of that substance.