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Drug Abuse Symposium Focuses On Preventing Addiction

Erin DeMay

Day two of a drug abuse symposium in Indianapolis focused on prevention Friday. Officials say a disproportionate amount of time and money is focused on what to do after someone gets addicted rather than preventing someone from becoming an addict.

The philosophy behind drug prevention has changed in the last 20 years, says Indiana Prevention Resource Center educator Jasynda Radanovich.

She says the iconic ‘This is your brain on drugs’ video, which featured an egg being fried in a skillet, represents a fear-based approach that hasn’t proven successful.

“There’s been decades of research about fear tactics that show a lot of interesting information, one is that they can have the opposite effect, or that they are not taken seriously, or they’re not understood,” Radanovich says.

Radanovich says comprehensive, individualized strategies are needed, but notes that nuanced tactics are more expensive.

In respect to funding, University of Washington prevention professor J. David Dawkins says it’s easier for lawmakers and media outlets to notice those already suffering, instead of those at risk of becoming an addict. Dawkins says public health advocates must become more vocal about their needs.

Indiana ranked 48th in public health funding in a 2015 report from the United Health Foundation.  

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