Alcohol and Other Drugs
Policy and Environmental Change Overview
Public health has been getting increasingly involved in developing and advocating for policy-level change, because changes at this level can simultaneously influence the health of many people. This is because policies do not require people to continuously work to actively change behavior; rather, policies operate passively to change an entire environment.
As an example, substance abuse prevention has typically consisted of educating individuals or groups of individuals through a variety of communications. Any behavior change outcome must rely upon each individual actively making decisions and choices, continuously. While education certainly is an important component of a comprehensive prevention plan, it shouldn’t be the only component. There are ways to encourage change to happen on a level that would influence a community or larger population.
You can ultimately influence many more people by using traditional educational techniques, but targeted to a different kind of audience. Rather than having the “target audience” be individuals at risk of substance abuse, the target audience could be owners/managers of alcohol sales outlets, and sellers and servers of alcohol. These audiences could be educated to make changes that would result in decreased alcohol-related problems among underage youth. In this instance, behavior changes made by a select few would thus change the behavior of many potential individual underage drinkers. This is what policy and environmental change are about.
Policy & Environmental Change Finding Minnesota Alcohol Laws
Key Alcohol Resources:
Preventing Problems Related to Alcohol Availability: Environmental Approaches. Reference Guide. “ From SAMHSA, CSAP, 1999. Attention: Non-MDH link
Publications to assist states and communities in the enforcement of underage drinking laws, from OJJDP. Attention: Non-MDH link
Strengthening Families and Protecting Children from Substance Abuse. Appendix B: Improving the Larger Environment “ Northeast Center for the Application of Prevention Technologies. 1999. Attention: Non-MDH link