Woman raising her hand in a group

AIR’s Center for Addiction Research and Effective Solutions (CARES) recognizes that the primary education system has a role in preventing and/or delaying problematic alcohol and drug use as well as connecting youth to care who may need behavioral health services for mental health and substance use needs. Schools also serve as a first line of defense for youth experiencing trauma, which—left unaddressed—has long-term implications for substance use disorder, mental health and other chronic conditions.

Some believe addiction should be called "ritualized compulsive comfort-seeking." This is in response to the recognition that addiction is often a normal response to traumatic experiences, like bleeding is a normal response to being cut.

Lack of access to quality education and its neighborhood correlates lead to marginalization and places individuals at higher risk for addiction. Providing quality education in safe and supportive learning environments is a key prevention strategy for addiction. When we are able to prepare youth for learning, keep youth engaged, helping them to achieve age-specific educational and social milestones, we lower the risk of substance use disorder.

Image of Amanda Latimore
Director, Center for Addiction Research and Effective Solutions (AIR CARES)