Like many good ideas, Prevention Action Alliance started in a basement.

In 1987, the cocaine epidemic was in full swing. Cocaine was available virtually everywhere and cocaine-related hospital emergencies rose to 94,000. Homicides increased, children were born with prenatal drug exposure, and crime ravaged low-income neighborhoods where the drug trade flourished. We were losing a generation of children to drugs.

All levels of society mobilized against the cocaine epidemic. Hope Taft, who wasn’t yet the first lady of Ohio, brought together a group of parents in her home to discuss how they could work together to protect their children from drug addiction and to empower other parents to do the same. Together, they created a nonprofit to raise awareness about the dangers of misusing drugs and alcohol.

We began to focus on environmental prevention, enacting strategies that leveraged community change to prevent drug use. These strategies take aim at the whole community and seek to change physical, social, or cultural conditions surrounding drug use by, for instance, educating the community about drug use, changing how the media talks about addiction, conducting compliance checks of local stores that sell alcohol or cigarettes, and seeking public policies that prohibit or discourage the abuse of drugs.

We then recognized the link between mental health and drug use and how when one suffered or improved, so did the other one. We used prevention strategies to improve mental health and changed our name to Prevention Action Alliance to reflect our new mission of leading healthy communities in the prevention of substance misuse and the promotion of mental health wellness.

While we’ve refined our methods, our goal remains the same as it did in 1987: we want every child to grow up in a safe and healthy community that nurtures and supports them. We invite you to learn more about our history, our programs, and our networks by using this website. If you want to receive our newsletter, you can sign up using the form at the bottom of any webpage.