Preventing Substance Abuse

At YSS, Prevention Specialists work to promote substance-free lifestyle choices through education of the health consequences related to using Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug (ATOD) products, availability of cessation services, creation of substance-free policies, and promotion of awareness events. Prevention Specialists are available to provide educational opportunities for community groups and schools about substance-related topics and assist in the development of ATOD-free policies.

counselor ames

Classroom Curriculum

YSS strives to provide classroom programming that is age appropriate and research-based for young people.

Too Good For Drugs - Third through Fifth grades
This school-based prevention program is designed to reduce risk factors and enhance protective factors related to ATOD use among students. There are ten sessions, each being 45 minutes in length. In addition, the curriculum also emphasizes goal setting, decision making and effective communication.

Project ALERT - Sixth through Eighth grades
Project ALERT is a nationally recognized RAND Corporation middle school substance abuse program that gives students insight, understanding, and actual skills for resisting substance abuse. This science-based prevention program is designed for middle school youth to prevent the onset and reduce the frequency of ATOD use. There are eleven sessions implemented during the first year, each being 40 minutes. In the second year, there are three booster sessions, each being 45 minutes.

Tobacco Abuse Prevention

Prevention Specialists work in Boone and Story Counties to act as a local resource for healthcare providers, businesses, schools, and community members to help reduce exposure to secondhand smoke, provide education on tobacco cessation programs, and help reduce initiation of tobacco use. Activities in Boone and Story Counties include:

  • Providing education to healthcare providers on Quitline Iowa
  • Educating youth about tobacco prevention
  • Working with businesses, childcare providers, and preschools to create tobacco and nicotine free policies
  • Supporting local businesses on compliance with the Iowa Smoke Free Air Act
  • Educating community members and organizations regarding tobacco use prevention

Youth leading youth

Iowa Students for Tobacco Education and Prevention (ISTEP) is a youth led tobacco prevention initiative.  ISTEP chapter members plan and facilitate activities to educate their peers and communities on tobacco prevention issues.

For more information or to find a group near you, please visit the ISTEP Chapter website.


Be in the Know! For help to quitting tobacco and nicotine products, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or go online at Quitline Iowa.

  • 25% of US adults are living with mental illness and consume 40% of the cigarettes sold in the US. Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Electronic smoking devices (ESDs) emit an aerosol, not a “water vapor,” that contains a high concentration of ultrafine particles and low levels of toxins known to cause cancer. Water is not an ingredient in ESDs, this is a claim made by manufacturers and supporters. Source: Iowa Department of Public Health
  • In a 2012 study, individuals who started using cannabis in adolescence and used it for years afterward showed an average decline in IQ of 8 points when their age 13 and age 38 IQ tests were compared. Quitting pot did not appear to reverse the loss.  Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States. Although drinking by persons under the age of 21 is illegal, people aged 12 to 20 years drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States. More than 90% of this alcohol is consumed in the form of binge drinks. Binge drinking is defined as 4 or more drinks during a single occasion for a female and 5 or more drinks during a single occasion for a male. Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • In 2015, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 20% of youth aged 12 to 20 years drink alcohol and 13% reported binge drinking in the past 30 days. Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Community Resources

The Story County Prevention Policy Board has served as a local anti-drug coalition since 1994.  The board is comprised of both professional members and volunteers representing different sectors of the community, who come together in an effort to promote drug free policies and activities throughout the county to prevent and reduce substance abuse.  Community coalitions are instrumental in promoting both change in policy and community norms.   Story County Prevention Policy Board meetings are the first Monday of the month, 3:30 until 5:00pm at YSS Headquarters’ Jacobson Center, 420 Kellogg Ave., Ames.  Everyone is welcome to attend and become involved!

mental health services

Boone County Project SAFE was established as a coalition in 1991.  The primary focus of the SAFE Coalition is to strengthen collaboration among community entities to reduce substance abuse among youth.  Members of the SAFE Coalition represent a variety of sectors from across the community who work together toward a common goal of building a safe, healthy and drug free community.  Boone County Project SAFE promotes drug free policies and increases awareness and education across the county to prevent and reduce substance use.  The Boone County Project SAFE Coalition is located at 201 State St, Boone and meets the second Wednesday of each month at 4:00pm at 900 West 3rd, Boone, IA.  All community members are welcome to attend and become involved.  Also, visit us on Facebook by clicking here.

Learn More

Schools and community groups can request informational and educational presentations regarding alcohol, tobacco, and drugs; child abuse prevention; youth employment; and youth development.  These are part of a comprehensive approach used to address concerns in the community.

These programs are often longer in length, but in return, students are able to integrate a greater level of knowledge and positive behavior change.  For more information or to request a presentation, please call Prevention Services at 515-233-3141.

To get involved in the Story County Prevention Policy Board or the Boone County SAFE Coalition. Contact Ruth Buckels, Prevention Manager at 515.233.2250 X 4572

Reach out today!

Please feel free to contact us with questions or for more information. If your request is urgent in nature, we request you contact us by phone at 515.233.3141.