Strategic Prevention Framework

Evidence Based

The SPF ensures that interventions and activities are based on verifiably effective strategies.

Environmental Strategies

Addresses, not just active substance use, but factors in community that influence substance use.


Approaches can be modified based on community needs, to be as effective as possible.

Community Driven

Cultural sensitivity to the community, as well as long term sustainability are key in designing interventions.

Steps of the Strategic Prevention Framework
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Priority Substances

As a requirement for the Drug-Free Communities grant, our coalition has selected two priority substances to address within our community. These substances have been selected based on the level of use within Torrington, as well their impact on the health and well-being of youth and the community at large.

By selecting these priority substances, we are by no means neglecting other problem substances – we are merely identifying these issues as being central to our SPF approach.

Underage Drinking

  • In 2018, we surveyed Torrington 7th-12 graders about substance use trends. The results underscored concerning patterns of alcohol use.
  • 18.8% of Torrington 12th graders reported consuming alcohol within the last 30 days
  • 46.7% of 7th-12th graders felt it was “easy” or “sort of easy” to gain access to alcohol.
  • Youth are particularly susceptible to negative health effects of alcohol due to their growing bodies and minds.
  • Alcohol is the leading cause of a large range of health consequences, including cancer, liver disease, and brain damage.
    This is not to mention the increased risk of death due to unintentional injury such as car accidents.
  • The CDC estimates that there are 4,300 deaths each year due to excessive drinking by youth under the age of 21.


  • In 2018, we surveyed Torrington 7th-12 graders about substance use trends. The results underscored concerning patterns of electronic cigarette use.
  • 28.8% of Torrington 12th graders reported using an electronic cigarette within the last 30 days
  • 50% of 7th-12th graders felt it was “easy” or “sort of easy” to obtain an electronic cigarette if they wanted one.
  • Electronic cigarettes contain nicotine – the most popular brands, such as Juul, contain as much nicotine as traditional cigarettes.
  • There is much we don’t know about the long-term impact of electronic cigarette use; however, there is a lot we know about addiction. Nicotine addictions can prime a developing brain for becoming addicted to other substances, greatly increasing the health risk involved.
  • Youth who vape are upwards of seven times more likely to begin smoking traditional cigarettes.

Substance Use & Addiction

Substance abuse and addiction are very complex and multi-faceted issues that communities across the country are struggling to deal with. One thing we know is that intentional, community focused approaches to substance abuse prevention can be extremely effective.

National Trends

National data highlights some interesting trends in youth substance use across the country. While some of the data indicates positive changes, it by no means indicates that we’re in the clear. The National Institutes of Health produced an interesting video discussing some of these stats.

Complexity of Addiction

There are a large number of factors that can lead to addiction. Check out the video published through Khan Academy for an interesting discussion of some of the risk factors.

The Adolescent Brain is Vulnerable

The young brain is still developing, and is extremely sensitive to the effects of addictive substances. Not only are young brains at a greater risk of developing an addiction, an addiction to one substance can further increase the risk of becoming addicted to other substances. World Science Festival published a fantastic clip discussing the ability for nicotine to prime the brain for further addictions.

Check out more info!

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