September | October 2019

October Is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 700,000 Americans died from a drug overdose between 1999 and 2017, and about 68 percent of the drug overdose deaths in 2017 involved opioids. The rate of opioid overdose deaths among youth ages 15–24 has increased significantly since 1999, with 4,094 deaths in this age group in 2017. In addition to its tragic toll on human life, the opioid epidemic is having a profound effect on communities by disrupting public safety and increasing the burden for the law enforcement, child welfare, community health, corrections, and judicial systems.

OJJDP applauds the administration’s proclamation of October 2019 as National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. Through the following fiscal year 2019 grants, the Office remains steadfastly committed to supporting states and communities as they work to prevent and treat substance abuse and assist in the recovery of those who have been impacted:

  • Opioid Affected Youth Initiative. Multidisciplinary task forces—with representatives from a range of community sectors, including law enforcement, health, education, the juvenile courts, child welfare agencies, and child protective services—are identifying specific areas of concern, collecting data to help coordinate efforts and resources, and providing intervention, prevention, and diversion services for youth and families directly impacted by opioid abuse.
  • Mentoring Strategies for Youth Impacted by Opioids. As part of its Mentoring Opportunities for Youth initiative, OJJDP supports youth mentoring organizations that have a demonstrated partnership with a public or private substance abuse treatment agency. Mentoring includes a focus on preventing youth from using opioids in the first place, ensuring that youth who have used opioids are successful in their recovery efforts, and providing support and guidance to youth with family members who are currently abusing or have abused opioids.
  • Drug Treatment Courts Training and Technical Assistance Program. This initiative helps drug treatment court programs increase their effectiveness through research-based services; consistent and efficient case planning, monitoring, and supervision procedures; and the use of performance measures to improve drug court case processing and service delivery. Training and technical assistance are provided to OJJDP’s Family Drug Court Program, Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Program, and the Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts Initiative.
  • Family Drug Court Program. Family drug courts serve parents who require treatment for a substance abuse disorder and who are involved with the child welfare system as a result of child abuse, neglect, or other parenting issues. This program builds the capacity of state, local, and tribal governments to sustain existing family drug courts or establish new ones.
  • Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Program. Juvenile drug courts are dockets within juvenile courts for cases involving substance-abusing youth in need of specialized treatment services. These courts allow for intensive judicial supervision of youth that would not ordinarily be available in the traditional juvenile court process. This program provides resources to create and enhance juvenile drug court programs for youth with substance abuse problems specifically related to opioid abuse or co-occurring mental health disorders, including histories of trauma.

  • Tribal Juvenile Healing to Wellness Courts Initiative. As part of the Department of Justice’s Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation, this initiative enhances the capacity of tribal courts to respond to the alcohol and substance abuse issues of youth who are younger than 21. Tribal Juvenile Healing to Wellness Courts strive to increase individual and community safety by holding youth accountable for delinquent behaviors while also providing therapeutic processes within a culturally supportive framework.


OJJDP’s Model Programs Guide is a resource for practitioners and communities about what works, what is promising, and what does not work in juvenile justice, delinquency prevention, and child protection and safety. Read the guide’s evaluations of programs in the areas of substance abuse prevention and treatment, mentoring, juvenile and family drug courts, and family reunification.

Watch webinars describing OJJDP's FY 2019 Opioid Affected Youth initiative, Mentoring Opportunities for Youth initiative, and Family Drug Courts program.

Read OJJDP’s The Tribal Juvenile Healing to Wellness Court—Understanding Systems and Impacting Youth.