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The Difference Between Prevention & Treatment

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The Difference Between Prevention & Treatment

Feb 10, 2023
Prevention and Promotion graph

Written by: Jayla Lee BS, RA

Program Coordinator at PreventionFIRST! 

Young Prevention Professional Member


Prevention and Treatment are terms that can often be overlapped with each other. It is  important to realize that taking the appropriate preventative measures beforehand can prevent treatment from having to occur. If you are new to the field, you may pose the question, what is the difference? Prevention is a set of interventions that occur prior to the onset of a disorder that are intended to prevent or reduce the risk of a disorder. Treatment is when you are already diagnosed with a disorder, and taking the steps to get better. To get a visual aspect of the two, refer to the figure below:

This figure is called the “Continuum of Care.” This diagram ensures the mental, emotional, and  behavioral development of people. It is showing that before treatment, it is important to keep up with healthy strategies as it refers to your health, and preventing the problems before diagnosis.  This idea can be applied to many things such as mental illness, substance use disorders, violence, suicide, etc.

Think about when you are sick. You go to the doctor, get examined, and get prescribed medicine to help you feel better. This would be referred to as Treatment. On the other hand, let’s say you are healthy and cannot afford getting sick. This is where Prevention comes in. In order to prevent getting sick you may exercise regularly, keep a healthy diet, get the proper amount of sleep, take vitamins, etc. Our job in prevention is to make sure you take the proper steps to keep your body and mind in good health. Prevention is about teaching healthy coping mechanisms, promoting mental-well being, building self-esteem, self-confidence, refusal skills, and more in hopes of stopping a behavioral health disorder from even having the chance to start.

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