SAMHSA’s National Prevention Week: Action Today, Healthier Tomorrow

May 13–19, 2018, is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Prevention Week. NACCHO encourages local health departments (LHDs) to engage their communities in promoting mental health and substance abuse prevention efforts throughout this week. The theme this year is “Action Today, Healthier Tomorrow!”

Daily Themes

  • Monday, May 14: Promotion of Mental Health & Wellness
  • Tuesday, May 15: Prevention of Underage Drinking & Alcohol Misuse
  • Wednesday, May 16: Prevention of Prescription & Opioid Drug Misuse
  • Thursday, May 17: Prevention of Illicit Drug Use & Youth Marijuana
  • Friday, May 18: Prevention of Suicide
  • Saturday, May 19: Prevention of Youth Tobacco Use

Purpose of National Prevention Week

National Prevention Week hopes to raise awareness and advertise resources about behavioral health, substance abuse, and addiction, and leverage cross-sectoral partnerships to increase access to prevention and treatment services in communities throughout the United States.

Substance abuse in the United States has become a serious public health issue throughout the years and more recently, illicit drug use has increased rapidly.1 Substance use disorders are identified in individuals when the perpetual use and misuse of illicit and non-illicit drugs and alcohol result in short and long-term health consequences.  2 Health issues accompanying these conditions range from the inability to perform daily tasks to extreme circumstances such as disability, mental health issues, overdose, and death. In 2016, according to SAMHSA, substance use disorders affected nearly 20.1 million people ages 12 years and older in the United States. 2 Of these individuals, 2.1 had an opioid use disorder with 1.8 addicted to painkillers and 0.6 to heroin.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdose death rates have increased to over 137% and opioid overdoses to over 200% since the year 2000. Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, causing more deaths now than motor vehicle crashes.3 Those at the highest risk of opioid misuse and overdose include those with a mental illness, people who obtain multiple prescription medications from multiple healthcare providers and people who take high daily dosages of prescriptions. 4,5

The Role of Local Health Departments

LHDs play an essential role in supporting mental health and substance abuse prevention efforts to create a safe and healthy community for all. LHDs provide a wide range of services such as:

  • Preventative services
  • Referrals to substance abuse and mental health facilities
  • Health assessments
  • Counseling services
  • School-based behavioral health
  • Care coordination
  • Health insurance assistance and more.

A great example of an LHD participating in National Prevention Week is Carroll County Health Department in Westminster, MD. This year, the LHD planned a wide range of public events particularly focusing on youth drug and alcohol abuse. Their kick-off night at a local art studio on May 14 will include informational booths, speakers, and free food. The event will also premiere a ‘Dear Future Me’ video from the Manchester Valley High School’s girls’ basketball team.  This video features all 11 girls on the team discussing why they are substance free and how they plan to lead a healthy and happy future. The team hopes to be an inspiration and a positive influence on the younger generation, while Carroll County Health Department is excited to share the youth perspective with the entire community. The LHD created other ‘Dear Future Me’ videos from schools in the area to encourage even more people, including adults, to get involved and will also be highlighted on the health department website.

Carroll County is also taking advantage of this week to further educate the residents about the current opioid crisis in their area and sharing their preventative services that the health department offers as many are unaware of their programs. For more information about Carroll County Health Department’s great work, scroll down to the resources section below.

How Local Health Departments Can Participate

Creative ideas on how your LHD can get involved in National Prevention Week, now and throughout the year:

  • Host a community event.
    • Examples include town hall meetings, fairs, social media campaigns and more
  • Join the prevention challenge (I.e. Dear Future Me Campaign).
  • Endorse your LHDs preventative services. The SAMHSA Planning Toolkit can help.
  • Advocate for better substance abuse and mental health policies/laws in your community.
    • Reach out to state, local and federal government officials to educate them on first-hand experiences and the most effective ways to address substance abuse and mental health. You are the experts in your community.
    • NACCHO’s Advocacy webpage contains policy statements, legislative resources, and contact information for your elected officials.

By taking action today, together, we can create a healthier tomorrow. NACCHO encourages LHDs to share these prevention messages throughout the month of May and the week of May 13–19.

Potential Messages to Share:

It’s National Prevention Week, promoting awareness/prevention of substance use. Learn more about the daily themes and how you can support this week here #NPW2018 @samhsagov

Mark your calendars! National Prevention Week 2018 will take place May 13–19! Learn more today:  #NPW2018 @samhsagov

Join local health departments throughout the United States in promoting National Prevention Week, May 13–19! #NPW2018 @samhsagov

Promote awareness and prevention of substance use in your community the week of May 13–19 during National Prevention Week! Learn more about what your LHD can do here: #NPW2018 @samhsagov

Want to learn more about National Prevention Week? Join us in promoting this week by clicking here!  #NPW2018 @samhsagov

Host a community event or activity during National Prevention Week to raise awareness for the prevention of substance use and the promotion of mental health. Learn more here: #NPW2018 @samhsagov


Carroll County Health Department Story and Resources:



  1. Abuse, N. I. (n.d.). Nationwide Trends. Retrieved December 19, 2017, from
  2. (2015, October 27). Substance Use Disorders. Retrieved December 19, 2017, from
  3. Increases in Drug and Opioid Overdose Deaths — the United States, 2000–2014. (2016, January 01). Retrieved December 19, 2017, from
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). CDC Grand Rounds: Prescription drug overdoses – a U.S. epidemic. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 61(01). Retrieved December 19, 2017, from
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). Policy Impact: Prescription Painkiller Overdoses. Retrieved December 19, 2017, from pdf