Implementing Policy to Prevent Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Misuse: A Guidebook

Efforts to prevent substance misuse generally fall under one of two broad approaches: individual and environmental strategies. Individual strategies focus on interventions to change attitudes and intentions, provide knowledge, and develop skills to help individuals resist influences that would lead them to use substances. These interventions involve working repeatedly with individuals and small groups, requiring a tremendous amount of resources to reach a large portion of the community population.


Environmental strategies, such as policy change, focus on changing the environments that shape individual behavior. The goal is to make the healthy choice the easy choice. Policy change also provides a greater opportunity to address health disparities.This guidebook will help you and your coalition make sense of the policy process by breaking it down step-by-step.


In detail, the guide will cover:

  • How to draft the Policy Action Statement

  • Building compliance of the policy with the responsible organization(s) or entity

  • Collecting data to establish a link between the Community Condition and the Proposed Policy

  • Developing an Issue Brief that makes the case for the Policy and offers the policy solution

  • Drafting the Policy Language

  • Utilizing media advocacy

  • Organizing and mobilizing for support

  • Preparing and presenting your policy to Decision Makers

  • Supporting policy implementation and compliance

  • Evaluating the policy campaign process and impacts



By working through the supporting activities, you and your partners will gain experience in forming, implementing, and promoting the compliance with ATOD policies. These policies have the potential to make alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs less accessible, less affordable, and less prevalent, thereby reducing the community-level harms associated with these substances. 


This guidebook was adapted from Implementing and Supporting Policies to Prevent Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Misuse Information Guide Series funded by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services.

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