Prevention and wellness resource inventory for Washoe County, Northern Nevada

The Mathewson Early Prevention Program (MEPP) was identified as an initiative of Transforming Youth Recovery (TYR) in 2016 following the publication of Closing the Gap: An examination of access to best-in-class evidence-based alcohol and other drug prevention programs for K-12 students in the U.S. (Transforming Youth Recovery, 2015). The intended purpose for the initiative has been to research and design community and school-based capacity building methods for prevention, early intervention, and school-based recovery support programs and services in Washoe County, Nevada.

Specifically, the MEPP initiative reflects a desire to identify and support best practices for an enhanced prevention and wellness system in Northern Nevada. Additionally, through MEPP, TYR seeks to contribute to prevention and public health research by offering viable demonstration models for national replication. Such models and correlating capacity building methods aim to provide implementation practices for expanding access to substance misuse prevention programs and services.

To initiate the effort to research, support, and enrich a localized prevention and wellness system, TYR committed funding for an 18-month planning period to identify community, school, and family-based prevention resources in and around Reno, Nevada. The resources identified were intended to serve as the foundational assets for preliminary capacity building investments and eventually to identify any potential service gaps that may require attention for a flourishing substance misuse prevention and wellness system in Northern Nevada.

At the beginning of the planning period, TYR was aware of just 46 prevention resources in Washoe County. These prevention resources had been previously been identified as part of community asset mapping activities undertaken by TYR in 2015.

Starting in late 2016, researchers worked to better understand the current substance misuse prevention and wellness system in Washoe County and identify the specific drugs and other child and adolescent needs in the community through primary and secondary data collection. Secondary data was identified and evaluated on the following topics:

  • Substances used by K-12 students in Reno, NV
  • Prevalent community risk factors
  • Washoe County Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) findings
  • Connection between early childhood trauma and substance use
  • Youth arrest data
  • Youth survey data
  • Other relevant data points (i.e. the Mayor of Reno’s Conversation on Mental Health & Addiction)

Primary data was collected through 22 community asset mapping interviews. These interviews were conducted with professionals and organizations throughout the area to build awareness of the MEPP initiative, build collaborative relationships, and better understand the specific prevention programs and services available for youth and families in the county.

Through research efforts and extended community asset mapping activities, in total, 141 prevention programs or services were identified.

As reported in The Mathewson Early Prevention Program (MEPP): Summary Planning Period Report and Prevention Resource Inventory for Washoe County, Northern Nevada (2018), a prevention program or service is this data set defined as: (1) Located in Washoe County or serves Washoe County residents; (2) Program serves students PreK-12 and their families; and, (3) Program increases protective factors and decreases risk factors associated with substance use.

Definitions of prevention

The field of prevention science is deep and long studied. Most prevention strategies and programs have their roots in academia, which provides a defined set of terms used to describe any prevention effort. The following outlines some key terms that are important to understanding the landscape of prevention in and the recommendations made in reports.

Term Definition and Source
Prevention Programs, services and resources that are intended to prevent or reduce the risk of developing a behavioral health problem, such as underage alcohol use, prescription drug misuse and abuse, and illicit drug use delivered prior to the onset of a disorder. Prevention includes universal prevention, selective prevention, and indicated prevention. (SAMHSA, 2017)
Universal prevention Programs, services, and resources that are aimed at all members of a given population (for instance, all children of a certain age). Examples of universal prevention include policies—such as the setting of a minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) or reducing the availability of substances in a community—and school-based programs that promote social and emotional competencies to reduce stress, express emotion appropriately, and resist negative social influences. Because they focus on the entire population, universal prevention tends to have the greatest overall impact on substance misuse and related harms relative to prevention focused on individuals alone. (Facing Addiction in America, 2016)
Selective prevention Programs, services, and resources that are aimed at a subgroup determined to be at high-risk for substance use (for instance, justice-involved youth). (Facing Addiction in America, 2016)
Indicated prevention Programs, services, and resources that are targeted to individuals who are already using substances but have not developed a substance use disorder. (Facing Addiction in America, 2016)
Treatment These services are for people diagnosed with a substance use or other behavioral health disorders. (SAMHSA, 2017)
Recovery These services support individuals’ abilities to live productive lives in the community and can often help with abstinence. (SAMHSA, 2017)