What Is A Prevention Specialist and What Do They Do?

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At Wellspring, our goal is to promote the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities through the prevention of addiction-related problems. Our team of dedicated prevention specialists play a primary role in this mission, working across Middlesex County to improve public health outcomes across the lifespan.

Not familiar with the role of a prevention specialist? Here's everything you need to know.

What is a prevention specialist?

A prevention specialist is a professional who provides education, resources, and support to individuals who might be at risk for poor health and wellness outcomes, such as children at a vulnerable age. Prevention specialists typically work in schools, non-profit and faith-based organizations, and in government.

Most prevention specialist jobs require at least a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as education, social work, or counseling. Additionally, professionals must possess at minimum an Associate Prevention Specialist (APS) credential, though they commonly go on to obtain a Certified Prevention Specialist (CPS) credential. In addition to initial credentialing, prevention specialists must regularly complete continuing education coursework to maintain their certification.

The broad field of prevention education encompasses aspects of mental, emotional, and behavioral health. While there are several types of prevention specialists, many choose to concentrate on drug and alcohol addiction. Substance abuse prevention specialists work to educate children, families, and communities about the dangers of alcohol and other drugs. They help children develop the positive life skills needed to avoid destructive behaviors, give parents the skills they need to raise healthy children who can make informed choices, and teach families how to communicate more effectively.

Current research shows that when implemented properly, prevention works: evidence-based programs facilitated by prevention specialists have been demonstrated to reduce youth alcohol use by 18%, marijuana use by 15%, other drug use by 10%, and tobacco use by 7%.

What do prevention specialists do?

Because there are so many facets to prevention, professionals in this field have a wide array of job responsibilities, including:

  • Educating students. Within school-based programs, prevention specialists implement prevention programs or curricula. This may include direct instruction on the dangers of underage substance use and misuse, as well as setting up opportunities for students to have positive interactions with each other, staff, and the community.
  • Working with parents and families. Prevention specialists provide education and programming to parents and families, particularly those who are at risk for poor health outcomes, to help improve communication and connection.
  • Spreading awareness in the community. From health fairs to business expos to organization fundraisers, prevention specialists work to spread awareness of public health issues such as substance use. They often develop and share presentations for groups, such as families with children of a certain age, or for facilities, such as hospitals or schools.
  • Providing resources. Prevention specialists can offer counseling, information, education, and other resources to support at-risk populations and improve health outcomes.
  • Supporting those in need. Perhaps most importantly, prevention specialists are a support system to those struggling with their mental health or other challenges. Simply having a compassionate professional to listen and understand can often make all the difference.
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