Community substance use prevention and early intervention


Hands holding paper cut outs in the shapes of gears

As part of creating a more effective behavioral health system, the Community Prevention and Early Intervention Program formerly within the Colorado Department of Human Services' Office of Behavioral Health recently moved to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) in order to elevate the work being done within this program in primary prevention. Moving the Community Prevention and Early Intervention Program to CDPHE’s Prevention Services Division represents significant opportunity for leveraging expertise in primary prevention and substance misuse prevention, leveraging resources and braiding funding in the future so that prevention can have a greater impact in communities, and realizing efficiencies in contracting and the provision of technical assistance and training to stakeholders across the state. 

CDPHE is collaborating with the Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) on strategy and resource allocation for primary prevention strategies executed by CDPHE. These are strategies focused on promoting protective factors and mitigating risk factors associated with poor mental health and substance misuse for the whole population across Colorado’s communities. This work focuses upstream on preventing behavioral health concerns before they occur. 

The Community Prevention and Early Intervention Programs is committed to promoting the health and safety of Colorado citizens by working with our community partners to improve access to high quality primary prevention of substance use programs. The Program works in partnership with key policymakers, prevention providers, various state level organizations, families, individuals and, most importantly, communities to promote and strengthen the Colorado substance abuse primary prevention infrastructure throughout the state.

Local communities are paramount to the success of prevention programming throughout the state, and it is with the communities where the real work happens. The Program funds local communities throughout the state to implement a wide range of community level, empirically based prevention programming aimed at preventing the misuse of legal and illegal substances, while reducing risk factors and increasing protective factors associated with substance misuse and general wellness.

According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an annual average of 11.5 percent of Colorado adolescents aged 12-17 initiated alcohol use for the first time in the past year from 2011 to 2015. The annual average for initiated marijuana use in the past year was 7.7 percent , and an annual average of 5.2 percent initiated cigarette use in the past year.

Colorado will often rely on the data from the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey and the NSDUH to do the following:

  • Determine prevalence of health behaviors among youth
  • Assess youth behavior trends over time
  • Examine the occurrence of youth health behaviors
  • Provide comparable national, state, regional and local youth health data
  • Provide comparable health data among subpopulations of youth

A comprehensive approach to behavioral health also means seeing prevention as part of an overall continuum of care. The Behavioral Health Continuum of Care Model recognizes multiple opportunities for addressing behavioral health problems and disorders.(Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, 2017)

Prevention Programs
Early Intervention Programs
Prevention Resources

For more information about substance abuse prevention and early intervention programs and services, please contact:

Sharon Aragon, Program Assistant
CDPHE Prevention Services Division

Bonnie Holladay, Community Prevention Programs Coordinator
CDPHE Prevention Services Division

Sharon Liu, Community Prevention Programs Manager
Prevention and Early Intervention Programs
CDPHE Prevention Services Division

Ari Stillman, Evaluation Data Manager for Community Prevention and Early Intervention
CDPHE Prevention Services Division

Kyle Pacqué, School/Training Prevention Specialist
CDPHE Prevention Services Division / Colorado Department of Education