Strategic Priority 1 Prevention and early intervention

Prevention and early intervention are important public health strategies designed to prevent the uptake and problematic use of alcohol and other drugs, and reduce potential harm. They aim to reduce the effect of risk factors and enhance protective factors.

Strengthening prevention and early intervention reduces vulnerability and demand, and delivers a high return on investment.

Evidence demonstrates that preventing the uptake of substance use and delaying the age of initiation or first-use protects against alcohol-and-other-drug-related-harm across the life course. The earlier a person starts using alcohol or other drugs, the greater the risk of harm and of poor individual, social and system outcomes.

Prioritising prevention and early intervention will reduce the impact on people and communities and reduce demand for acute and specialist alcohol and other drug treatment services.

Awareness of harm

Raising alcohol and other drug literacy can build positive individual, family, community and service attitudes, increase awareness of harm, and support people to seek help earlier. 

Family-based approaches

Family-based and carer-based prevention approaches can be effective in reducing harm. Many parents and carers find it difficult to build their own knowledge and skills, and locate credible and age-appropriate information and resources to help initiate and guide effective conversations about alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

Prevention types 

Prevention responses can be categorised as primary, secondary or tertiary, with each targeting different groups.

  • Primary prevention is delivered prior to substance use problems occurring and can be 'universal', with delivery to a whole group, regardless of individual risk factors, or 'selective', with delivery to higher-risk individuals.
  • Secondary or 'indicated' prevention is also referred to as 'early intervention' and is delivered to individuals who are already experiencing substance use problems but have not yet developed a substance use disorder. 
  • Tertiary prevention is provided to individuals who are experiencing problems with their substance use and are likely to meet criteria for a substance use disorder. It is aimed at preventing further harm. 

Priority actions

Enhance prevention and early intervention to reduce harm and improve outcomes.



 Improve coordination across systems to:

  • build the capacity and capability of maternity and primary care services providers to deliver early, multi-faceted alcohol and other drug interventions

  • support general practitioners, including in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Organisations, to incorporate evidence-based prevention in primary health care

  • increase culturally-appropriate, evidence-informed family supports and interventions targeted at problematic alcohol and other drug use by parents

  • improve early identification of vulnerability and provide targeted programs for children and young people, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people-specific initiatives, and initiatives for people involved with youth justice and out-of-home care systems

  • increase risk-awareness and support options for fetal alcohol spectrum disorder across communities and within workforces.



Improve community prevention and harm reduction awareness to:

  • improve shared understanding of alcohol-and-other-drug-related-harm and protective factors from the early years through to older people

  • continuously improve school-based alcohol and other drug education, focusing on informed decision-making for young people and demonstrated evidence of program effectiveness

  • strengthen alcohol and other drug literacy through sustained and integrated communication campaigns to improve community awareness, attitudes and behaviours

  • investigate options for reducing alcohol sponsorship and advertising in sport, recreation and on government-owned facilities

  • provide training and development to the media to support compliance with credible guidelines that are person-centred and focused on reducing harm, such as the Mindframe and Common Cause guidelines
  • implement an online portal of evidence-based and culturally-appropriate alcohol and other drug prevention resources designed for families and communities in Queensland, including harm reduction resources and help-seeking opportunities, such as the Ice Help campaign.



Improve prevention and early intervention through earlier identification and provision of appropriate child, youth and family services for children and young people experiencing vulnerabilities, such as trauma, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, disability, developmental delay, and risky or challenging behaviours: 

  • strengthen social, cultural, educational and vocational engagement and responses for vulnerable young people

  • enhance school engagement strategies for students at risk of or engaged in alcohol and other drug use

  • prioritise programs incorporating connection to Country and culture with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and services co-designed in partnership with local communities
  • provide resources and community-based programs tailored to culturally and linguistically diverse communities

  • improve awareness of the role of trauma and adverse childhood experiences in the development of problematic alcohol and other drug issues by embedding trauma-informed approaches throughout government and non-government agencies.