Alcohol & Other Drugs Prevention

Supporting Healthy Youth & Families

Prevention programs and services support healthy youth development, improve family functioning, and build community.

  • Most Whatcom County youth do not drink alcohol, smoke tobacco, or use cannabis or other drugs.
  • Prevention programs are effective, produce positive outcomes for youth and families, and save taxpayers money. 
  • Reducing risk factors simultaneously reduces risks for other problem behaviors like delinquency, teenage pregnancy, school drop-out and poor mental health.
  • Community prevention efforts take place throughout Whatcom County. You can get involved in the work of the local Prevention Coalitions described below.


What is Prevention?

Prevention activities and programs have two goals:

  • Reducing risk factors, such as those associated with traumas experienced during childhood -- things like abuse, neglect, addiction, or mental illness in the home. 
  • Increasing "protective factors" -- things like positive relationships with other trusted adults or connections to school and community. 

When risks are reduced and protective factors increase, the likelihood that young people will engage in unhealthy behaviors like substance use can be reduced. 

Local Prevention Efforts

We work with community partners on a variety of prevention strategies to support healthy youth development. These include local community prevention coalitions, resources for parents and the community, and regional youth cannabis prevention efforts. These activities are funded through local, state, and federal funds.

  • Coalitions: Several local community prevention coalitions coordinate services for young people and families, offer community training, and work on public policies intended to support healthy choices among young people. This includes services and strategies to prevent things like tobacco use, vaping, and opioid abuse. You can learn more at Coalitions and Whatcom Has Hope.
  • Parent and Community Resources: Parents and other trusted adults have a significant effect on young people. Adults can help build hope and resilience in youth, encouraging them to choose healthy behaviors over unhealthy ones. You can find resources and educational materials at Parent and Community Resources.
  • Regional Youth Cannabis Prevention: We work with several other health departments, coalitions, schools, and community partners in our region to reduce marijuana use among young people. Find out more about these efforts at Youth Cannabis and Tobacco Prevention.


Additional Resources