Like the name implies, Primary prevention is the first type of prevention possible – it occurs before the problem occurs. For example, a primary care physician could encourage a busy single-mother to find healthy coping mechanisms for her stress, or a school counselor could serve as a safe place for a troubled student to confide. Primary prevention is all about spreading awareness, establishing trust, and stopping a problem before it begins.
Secondary prevention occurs at the earliest signs of a Substance Use Disorder. An example of this may be an individual confiding in his doctor at his annual physical that he’s worried he drinks too much. From that point, providers would ask the following, tested questions to decide whether intervention is necessary:
- Do you feel like you should cut back on drinking or using substances?
- Do you feel bad or guilty about your drinking or substance use?
- Have you ever had a drink or other substance first thing in the morning?
These questions followed by open-ending conversation can help the provider assess the extent of the potential problem.
In some situations, an individual may need to be referred to further assessment and treatment. If a primary care doctor or other health care provider is made aware of a reliance on substances or substance-related health problems, they would then refer the individual or loved one to the appropriate treatment facility.