The Prevention Pillar focuses on preventing or delaying the onset of substance use and addressing root causes of use.

Who is involved?

Participation in this pillar includes University of Waterloo, Public Health, Lutherwood, Waterloo Regional Police Services, the Waterloo Region Catholic District School Board, and the Waterloo Region Public District School Board. The pillar coordinating committee is currently chaired by Region of Waterloo Public Health.

What work is being done?

Understanding the scope of substance use prevention, what works and what doesn't work, and to improve, build on and coordinate existing prevention work is key in this pillar.

The focus on preventing or delaying the onset of substance use and addressing root causes of use begins with children and youth and fits within a broader context of the social determinants of health.

Examples of strategies in the Prevention Pillar

Some examples of strategies in this pillar include:

  • Parent, caregiver and youth substance use education and awareness. Various resources have been created and shared to provide parents and youth with information and skills to discuss and prevent or delay the onset of substance use and to prevent overdose. Interactive games and apps can be found on the Preventing or Delaying Substance Use page; letters to parents and caregivers have been shared through the Catholic and Public School Boards; and, a poster campaign was launched to encourage the return of prescription medications to the pharmacies.
  • Curriculum Enhancement Strategy for Elementary and Secondary Grades. Curriculum supports have been developed and are being expanded to ensure youth are provided with important information to keep themselves and their peers safe. Information is tailored to be age-appropriate and provide practical information for youth who may be in a position to prevent a fatal overdose. Information about the importance of calling 911 is also included.
  • Improving Health Care Provider Opioid Prescribing and Dispensing. Current professional development opportunities discourage and prevent extensive opioid use in patients through post-operation kits and support pharmacists' understanding of opioids, optimal prescribing practices and naloxone distribution.
  • Delaying Cannabis Use Resources. Together with students at the University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy, resources are being developed to help delay the onset of cannabis use. They will include a youth and cannabis video resource and a resource to help prevent accidental poisoning in children from edible cannabis products.


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