It is impossible to be an effective Prevention Specialist without a solid foundation of knowledge about all aspects of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Whether educating youth with and evidence-based curriculum or testifying before the legislature to advocate for system-wide change, you must have your facts straight and be able to communicate that knowledge effectively.
As a Prevention Specialist, you will be responsible for implementing programs and managing projects. You must know how to assess the needs of your community, choose and deliver the proper services to respond to those needs, and then be able to evaluate your initiatives to ensure they achieve their goals. With the data you collect, you then need to be able to communicate your message effectively to your community stakeholders.
Prevention Specialist professionals will have to possess the following knowledge, skills and/or attitudes, knowledge of information gathering techniques and data sources, ability to collect, organize and interpret data, knowledge of current prevention program best practices, models, and the continuum of care, knowledge of current theory and models and more.
Prevention Specialists accomplish many of their goals by bringing individuals and organizations together in the form of coalitions working toward common goals. Working with community-based organizations is a way to maximize impact while generating the best buy-in for your efforts.
While providing evidence-based programming to individuals and families is central to the work of Prevention Specialists, nothing has a greater impact on the larger community than changes in policy. Whether they come in the form of school regulations, local ordinances, or state laws, policy changes have the ability to change community norms related to substance use in powerful ways.
As professionals in the field of prevention, it is critical to understand the ethics and legal issues that impact your work. In this time of few resources being directed toward prevention, it is even more important that Prevention Specialists ensure the services provided best meet the needs of their communities.