Prevention Services


Willow Tree staff member, Sue Nobleman, has been a practicing primary prevention specialist since 1983 and this is the work she loves most. Instead of focusing on telling youth what not to do — something that rarely works — Sue focuses on the positive: what to do! Essentially, this is engaging youth in positive peak experiences (natural highs) and motivating them to make a positive difference with their peers, their schools and communities. This is done by training them about Risk and Protective Factors in a fun and engaging manner and giving them the skills needed to reduce risks, increase protective factors and build upon personal assets and strengths. 

Our prevention programs include:

What follows is general prevention information. For more program specifics, go to the drop-down menu.

Prevention Definitions

Universal Prevention

The mission of universal prevention is to deter the onset of drug abuse by providing all individuals in a population with the information and skills necessary to prevent the problem.  All members of the population share the same general risk for drug abuse, although the risk may vary greatly among individuals.  Universal prevention programs are delivered to large groups without any prior screening for drug abuse risk status of the individual program recipients.  The entire population is assumed at-risk for substance abuse. Examples:   Substance abuse education in schools, media and public awareness. (i.e., Red Ribbon Week, Alcohol Awareness Month)

Selective Prevention Strategies

Selective prevention targets specific subgroups of the population that are believed to be at greater risk than others.  Age, gender, family history, place of residence (i.e., high drug use, or low-income neighborhoods) and victimization, or physical and/or sexual abuse may define the targeted subgroups.  Selective prevention targets the entire subgroup regardless of the degree of risk of any individual within the group.  One individual in the subgroup may not be at personal risk for substance abuse, whereas another individual in the same subgroup may be abusing substances.  The selective prevention program is presented to the entire subgroup because the subgroup as a whole is at higher risk for substance abuse than the general population.  An individual's personal risk is not specifically assessed or identified and is based solely on a presumption given in his or her membership in the at-risk subgroup. Examples:   Skills training for groups affected by environmental influences like high crime rate, unemployment and community disorganization.

Risk and Protective Factors

Risk factors include those individual or social factors associated with an increased likelihood of a negative outcome. Risk Factors can be related to biological, behavioral, and social/environmental characteristics. They include characteristics such as family history, depression or residence in neighborhoods where substance abuse is tolerated. Research supports the idea that the more factors that place the child at risk for substance abuse, the more likely it is she or he will experience substance use.       

Individual/Peer Relationships Risk Factors              
Community Environment Risk Factors
  • Rebelliousness
  • Friends who engage in the problem behavior
  • Favorable attitudes about the problem behavior
  • Early initiation of the problem behavior
  • Negative relationships with adults
  • Risk-taking propensity/impulsivity
  • Association with delinquent peers who use or value dangerous substances
  • Association with peers who reject mainstream activities and pursuit
  • Susceptibility to negative peer pressure
  • Easily influenced by peers
  • Lack of self-control, assertiveness and peer refusal skills
  • Early antisocial behavior such as lying, stealing and aggression, often combined with hyperactivity
  • Availability of drugs
  • Community laws, norms favorable toward drug use
  • Extreme economic and social deprivation
  • Transition and mobility
  • Low neighborhood attachment and community disorganization
  • Impoverishment
  • Unemployment and underemployment
  • Discrimination
  • Pro-drug use messages in the media
  • Community disorganization
  • Lack of cultural pride
  • Inadequate youth services and opportunities for pro-social involvement

Protective Factors

Protective factors appear to balance and buffer the negative impact of existing risk factors. Protective factors, such as solid family bonds and the capacity to succeed in school, help safeguard youth from substance abuse. In other words, building up a child's protective factors may decrease their likelihood of substance use, even if risk factors are present. Conversely, decreasing a child's risk factors can substantially lower their likelihood of future substance abuse.        

Family Relationship Protective Factors                               
School Environment Protective Factors
  • Bonding (positive attachments)
  • Healthy beliefs and clear standards for behavior
  • High parental expectations
  • A sense of basic trust
  • Positive family dynamic
  • Opportunities for prosocial involvement
  • Rewards/recognition for prosocial involvement
  • Healthy beliefts and clear standards for behavior
  • Caring and support from teachers and staff
  • Positive instructional climate


Individual/Peer Relationships Protective Factors  
Community Environment Protective Factors
  • Opportunities for prosocial involvement
  • Rewards/recognition for prosocial involvement
  • Healthy beliefs and clear standards for behavior
  • Positive sense of self
  • Negative attitudes about drugs
  • Positive relationship with adult
  • Association with peers who are involved in school, recreation, service, religion, or other organized activities
  • Resistance to peer pressure, especially negative
  • Not easily influenced by peers
  • Opportunities for participation as active members of the community
  • Decreasing substance accessibility
  • Cultural norms that set high expectations for youth
  • Social networks and support systems with the community
  • Media literacy (resistance to pro-use messages)
  • Decreased accessibility
  • Increased pricing through taxation
  • Raised purchasing age and enforcement
  • Stricter driving-while-under-the-influence laws

Risk and Protective Factors for Alcohol Abuse Among Older Adults

Risk Factors

  • Isolation: Older adults who are isolated from family members, friends, or communities are identified as most at risk for abusing alcohol.
  • Loss: Older adults experiencing declining health and shrinking social networks are at greater risk.
  • Memory loss: Older adults who experience impaired memory may fail to keep track of number of alcoholic beverages they have consumed or they are at risk for dangerously mixing prescription drugs and alcohol.

Protective Factors

  • Community Involvement
  • Social connections
  • Finding a purpose and remaining productive in later life/high degree of life satisfaction

Resource: Drug Abuse Prevention: What Works, National Institute of Drug Abuse, NIH Publication No. 97-45110

Please Feel Free To Contact our Office Anytime

201-602-7783 and 201-602-7523


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Office Hours

Office Hours


1:00 pm-9:00 pm


10:00 am-12:00 pm

3:00 pm-5:00 pm


10:00 am-12:00 pm

2:00 pm-5:00 pm


11:00 am-5:00 pm


Family Interventions


Family Interventions


Family Interventions

FSG 2 - 4 pm

Willow Women FSG 4:30 - 6 pm