2022 HIDTA Prevention Summit Lays the Foundation for How Communities Can MIND the MESSAGE to Prevent Substance Use in Youth Aged 12-18.

Over 1,500 people registered for the 2022 HIDTA Prevention Summit to prepare them in applying communication science to substance use prevention strategies.

“I just want to say this was one of the best summits I have been to in a long time. Loved how it built upon each session and it brought us back to the basics of community-based prevention.” –Participant testimonial 

Titled “Mind the Message: Equipping Communities with Evidence-Informed Communication Strategies for Youth Substance Use Prevention,” this year’s Summit engaged over 1,000 participants nationally. The Summit delivered on its goals to prepare caregivers, educators, healthcare and public safety professionals, and prevention experts in applying evidence-informed communication strategies to:

1) Develop messages and have conversations with youth aged 12-18, and

2) Change social mindsets to build community readiness for substance use prevention.

This year’s Summit was different from previous Summits. “We were laser focused on bringing the best available evidence on the specific topic of substance use prevention communications to our HIDTA communities,” said Dr. Lora Peppard, Director of ADAPT. “Over the last year, ADAPT has received multiple technical assistance requests on this topic, especially for the 12-18 age range, so we started there.” Elaborating more on the Summit and the toolkit, Dr. Peppard said, “Content experts and key stakeholders shaped the format of the Summit and supported the development of the Substance Use Prevention Communications Toolkit, yielding an excellent starting point for integrating communications science into the work of substance use prevention professionals and other roles that intersect with youth.”

The Substance Use Prevention Communications Toolkit provides evidence-informed guidance for creating, delivering, and disseminating messages to prevent onset or escalation of substance use in youth aged 12-18. Two types of communications are presented: conversations with youth and mass communications. Developed in consultation with subject matter experts, role representatives, and youth, the toolkit offers tested strategies on what to say (and what not to say) in prevention communications. The toolkit presents how positive social norms, such as the true rates of substance use, can influence perceptions of youth aged 12-18 and be used as an upstream substance use prevention strategy. Ideas for how people in specific roles (e.g., public safety and prevention professionals, caregivers, etc.) can apply the strategies are also shared.

Download the toolkit today to explore how you can use these strategies to support your substance use prevention efforts.

Access the Toolkit HERE!


Summit participants’ responses were overwhelmingly positive. Participants applauded the “thoughtful agenda” that carefully unfolded the rationale for upstream substance use prevention, the role of communication science in substance use prevention, and introduction of concrete strategies and resources to help members of the community apply communications science to their prevention conversations and activities.

96% of Summit participants felt CONFIDENT in developing and using substance use prevention messaging with youth aged 12-18 following the Summit.

Summit information was easily understood by participants and promoted learning along with confidence in applying new knowledge. A striking 99% of Summit participants who completed the post- Summit evaluation walked away having learned something new and 82% left ready to apply what they had learned. Participants described the concepts and strategies presented as highly relatable to their work (endorsed by 96%), translated into familiar language (99%) and presented in digestible bits (97%).

One message resonated across the day-long event:

Every voice can make a difference in preventing substance use in youth!

The Summit marked the launch of the MIND the MESSAGE campaign to propel participants into applying and sharing forward the evidence-informed messaging strategies discussed at the Summit and in the toolkit. Numerous participants immediately pledged to join the effort.


Join the growing number of people who have already pledged!

Pledge Here


P L E D G E to communicate with youth about substance use prevention using evidence-informed strategies.

L E A R N one positive social norm for substance use in your community.

U S E that positive norm in a frame when communicating with youth.

S H A R E this Call to Action with others who interact with youth.


Next Up! In the coming weeks, ADAPT will host a series of webinars offering additional guidance on upstream prevention communications and strategies such as:

  • Understanding and Applying Social Norms Approaches for Substance Use Prevention
  • Having Conversations with Youth for Substance Use Prevention
  • Using Evidence-Based Registries to Identify Substance Use Prevention Programs
  • Best Practices for Drug Education
  • Primary Prevention of Substance Use Mini-Series

Subscribe here to receive announcements for these events. As always ADAPT is committed to supporting further knowledge and skill development in prevention communications within the HIDTA communities.

All presentations from the 2022 HIDTA Prevention Summit, other than the keynote, can be accessed on ADAPT’s Youtube channel.