Research suggests the longer the first use is delayed, the less likely it is for a person to develop a substance abuse disorder.

Delaying substance use

Addiction is a medical disease that is entirely preventable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that youth who start drinking before age 15 years are six times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse later in life than those who begin drinking at or after age 21 years.

Our goal is to make every day life better for our youth. In order to do that, it is vital to disperse a current and comprehensive understanding of the impact substances have on our body. Armed with this knowledge, our youth will be better able to make healthy decisions surrounding substance use.

understanding the impact

In Episode 1- "The Hijacker," learn about how substance use disorders (SUDs) affect tissue function in two main parts of the brain: the limbic system (responsible for basic survival instincts) and the prefrontal cortex (where decision-making and impulse control live). Substance use activates the dopamine process in the survival center much more powerfully than natural rewards like food or sex.

Not everyone who uses alcohol or drugs develops a substance use disorder (SUD)-why is that? People have different risk factors that make them more vulnerable to developing SUDs. These can be environmental-such as poverty or exposure to trauma-or individual-such as genetics or the age of first use.
Like other chronic illnesses, substance use disorders (SUDs) get worse over time. As SUD progresses, mental and physical health problems tend to get worse and overall quality of life goes down. Most importantly, the risk of death increases as the disorder progresses, which is why starting treatment as soon as possible is key.
The concept of "rock bottom" can help people describe their experience of recovery from addiction by turning it into a narrative with a clear event that helped turn their life around. But the idea that we should wait for the disease to get worse before seeking treatment is dangerous.

Helpful Resources

There is a wealth of valuable resources across not only North Dakota but our entire country. Listed below are organizations, agencies, and movements dedicated to approaching prevention.


Parents Lead is an evidence-based prevention program that provides parents and caregivers with a wide variety of tools and resources to support them in creating a safe environment for their children that promotes behavioral health.


LevelUp Fargo is a coalition of parents, teachers, mentors, and community members who are all dedicated to using social capital to increase youth’s social connections and fight substance use among Fargo youth.


The ND Behavioral Health Division provides leadership for the planning, development, and oversight of the state's behavioral health system. The division works with partners within the North Dakota Department of Human Services and the state behavioral health system to improve access to services, address behavioral health workforce needs, develop policies, and ensure quality services are available for those with behavioral health needs.


The North Dakota Prevention Resource and Media Center (PRMC) provides effective, innovative and culturally appropriate substance abuse prevention infrastructure, strategies and resources to individuals and communities across North Dakota.