Assessing your community’s readiness to address the substance misuse problem and the existing resources that may be dedicated to this purpose will help you identify the most appropriate and feasible prevention and reduction strategies to implement in your community.
An assessment will help you determine your community’s level of awareness of, interest in, and ability and willingness to support substance misuse and abuse prevention initiatives.
Readiness assessments should reflect principles of cultural competence by involving representatives from across sectors in planning and data collection and by collecting information in ways that are appropriate and respectful.
Identifying and assessing the resources that exist to address substance misuse and abuse in your community will help you identify potential resource gaps, build support for prevention activities, and ensure a realistic match between identified needs and available resources.
When people hear the word resources, they often think of staff, financial support, and a sound organizational structure. However, resources may also include the following:
· Existing community efforts to address the prevention and reduction of substance misuse and abuse
· Community awareness of those efforts
· Specialized knowledge of prevention research, theory, and practice
· Practical experience working with particular populations
· Knowledge of the ways that local politics and policies help or hinder prevention efforts
It is important to focus your assessment on relevant resources (i.e., resources related to your priority problem). A well-planned and focused assessment will produce far more valuable information than one that casts too wide a net. At the same time, keep in mind that useful and accessible resources may also be found outside the substance abuse prevention system, including among the many organizations in your community that promote public health.