Principles of Substance Abuse Prevention for Early Childhood A Research-Based Guide (In Brief)
Research-Based Early Intervention Substance Abuse Prevention Programs

NIDA-supported research over the past 3 decades has led to evidence-based early intervention and substance abuse prevention programs that span the prenatal period, infancy and toddlerhood (0 to 3 years), preschool (ages 3 to 6), and the transition to elementary school (ages 6 to 8). The programs listed in this section are arranged by developmental period. Within each age range, programs are presented according to level of prevention — universal, selective, and tiered.

More detailed information on each of these programs can be found in the original publication on the NIDA website at

  • Universal: for everyone in the population regardless of risk — for example, all children in a preschool or first- grade classroom or all children in a community. 
  • Selective: for groups of children who are at risk due to some factor they have in common — for example, children with behavior problems or those living in a high poverty or crime area or in foster care. 
  • Tiered: targets more than one level of risk — for example, a universal intervention that also screens for more severe problems and risks and provides additional services for those in need.