Standards for Preventing Problematic Substance Use: Youth


Effective prevention does not necessarily mean working harder, but can be achieved through focusing resources on community needs and evidence-informed practices, and linking with other initiatives in the community.

In partnership with the Canadian Standards Task Force, CCSA developed a Portfolio of Canadian Standards for Youth Substance Abuse Prevention. The Canadian Standards provide teams with guidance — based on the best available evidence — on how best to plan, select, implement and evaluate their prevention efforts. The Canadian Standards were a foundational piece used by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to develop the International Standards, released in March 2013.

The Canadian Standards are designed to support prevention teams in planning, implementing and evaluating their initiatives. They provide:

  • A common benchmark for excellence;
  • Support and guidance to pursue continuous improvement;
  • Flexibility to adapt to different regional contexts or populations; and
  • Practical resources and examples to support change.

The rationale behind standards for youth drug use prevention

  • Youth are more likely than adults to engage in risky substance use and to experience greater harms from that use.
  • Applying the Standards helps ensure that prevention initiatives are successful and informed by the latest quality evidence.
  • Drug use prevention works. Read A Case for Investing in Youth Substance Abuse Prevention.

The Canadian Standards Portfolio

Developing the Canadian Standards

These resources were developed by a task force of experts following extensive cross-Canada consultations with prevention and education specialists, drug awareness police officers, clinicians, community outreach workers, researchers, policy analysts, senior managers in addiction agencies and health departments, teachers, school administrators and other key stakeholders.

Discover how some of our partners use the Canadian Standards.

Contact us at to let us know how the Canadian Standards are working for you and if you have suggestions for new tools or resources

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