Prevention » Program Overview

Demand Reduction Program

DEA is not only a very effective law enforcement agency, but it is also committed to reducing the demand for drugs –a critical complement to our primary law enforcement mission. Drug prevention is one of the seven priorities stated in DEA’s vision:

"Support initiatives to reduce the demand for drugs and give assistance to community coalitions and drug prevention initiatives."

DEA knows that to combat the demand for drugs it takes a three-tiered approach, law enforcement, prevention and treatment. Through DEA’s Demand Reduction Program, (DRP) we disseminate current information on the prevalence of illicit drug use and the negative health effects of illicit drugs. DRP staff develops brochures, fact sheets, drug abuse curricula, and disseminates information through presentations at conferences and school forums and two websites targeting parents and teens. A major component of our program includes the collaboration with various prevention partners who include other federal agencies, national and regional prevention organizations, law enforcement organizations, community coalitions, fraternal and civic organizations, youth-serving agencies, state and local government, and school districts.

In 1986, DEA created the Demand Reduction Section to stimulate, support, and coordinate
DEA's prevention activities throughout the nation. Over the years, DEA's Demand Reduction Program has evolved to meet the challenges of changing patterns of drug use and abuse, to integrate the continued advancements in the field of substance abuse prevention, and to support our partners who present significant opportunities for involvement in the work of prevention. DEA’s special agents provide drug trend information in their local communities and at professional educational forums, dependent on their office’s priorities.

The Demand Reduction Program Strategy

The Demand Reduction Program uses three major concepts of drug prevention research as the core of our strategy to develop and disseminate effective drug information targeting youth and parents and caregivers. Both youth and parents and caregivers need to be informed of the harmful effects of illicit drug use.

  • The teen brain is still developing. The frontal cortex, the area of judgment is not fully developed until the age of around 25; therefore, it is very important that teens do not use drugs.
  • When youth perceive that drugs are harmful, they will not use drugs.
  • The longer a child delays using drugs, the lower the chances are of having a substance abuse disorder or getting addicted to the drug.

DEA also maintains two web sites to provide information on the harmful effects of drugs. The website, targets youth and the website, targets parents and caregivers.


  • The sites are designed to provide the facts, not add to the hype. The facts are powerful enough in and of themselves—drugs are harmful to one’s health and dangerous, particularly when they are abused.

  • DEA’s teen website provides a wealth of information about various drugs including a section on facts and fiction about drugs, the consequences of using drugs with topics on addiction, impaired driving, and true stories of teens that have had drug problems. Descriptions of specific drugs, e.g., marijuana, nonmedical use of prescription drugs, spice/k2, bath salts, and heroin, provide easy to read information on the street names, the drug’s appearance and effect on the mind and body, overdose effects, legal status, and origin.
  • The site also features a student blog where several volunteers from D.A.R.E.’s Youth Advisory Board write on a specific drug topic each month. The site gives teens an opportunity to read about various topics of interest from their peers.

  • Parents and caregivers also need to find out the facts about drugs, drug use and drug abuse. DEA’s parent website,, was developed to provide valuable drug education information for parents and caregivers to help identify their child’s drug use, drug paraphernalia, warning signs of abuse, and the harmful side effects of the most commonly abused drugs.
  • The site features several DEA publications that are downloadable, including Drugs of Abuse, and Prescription for Disaster: How Teens Abuse Medicine. The site includes a video on how to keep your family safe from prescription and over-the-counter drugs.


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