Too many prevention programs for youth in current use are not supported by scientific evidence. At the same time, there are an increasing number of programs that are showing evidence of effectiveness but are not widely used. Even though the size effect found in current evaluated programs is often quite small, there is now a clearer understanding of the most important ingredients of youth substance use problem prevention, and they are embodied in these prevention principles. Regardless of whether sponsors adopt an existing program "off the shelf" or develop their own program, it makes sense to refer to these principles to ensure a sound program direction. One route would be to select the program exemplar that best reflects the principles sponsors wish to emphasize and use the exemplar for ideas for a framework to operationalize these principles.
More emphasis is needed on disseminating these principles, and on ensuring that local communities, program planners and developers have ready access to research-based knowledge and tools to develop and implement effective programs. Improved national and local data, both quantitative and qualitative, is fundamental to evidence-based program development. In any given community, planners need to pay attention to the big picture, by planning and implementing comprehensive programs and strategies. Universal programs, including strong supportive policies, are needed to reach a broad population base and "till the soil" for more targeted programs; selective programs are needed for youth and families "at risk", while more intensive programming and services must be available for those who are experiencing more serious problems.
More program evaluation needs to be financially supported and conducted with Canadian programs that attempt to put the principles into action. Evaluation that explores which components or principles are more significant than others, would be very useful in developing more cost-effective programming in the future. Program developers and deliverers should monitor costs of implementation more closely as well, to ensure that program benefits outweigh the costs and that program expenses do not prohibit effective programs from being replicated. When initiating a program, sponsors and funding bodies need to give concerted attention to ensuring sufficient resources to work with over the short and long term.
Through the development and wide dissemination of this compendium, we hope that we will be able to increase the capacity of communities throughout Canada to plan and implement evidence-based programs that will serve to prevent and/or reduce problems associated with substance use among our youth. By combining research-based knowledge and tools with community commitment and energy, we believe we can make a difference.