Evidence-Based Practices: Making a Plan

Calender Posted on: September 19, 2022clock Time to read: 2 minutes

Every 3rd Millennium Classrooms course includes up-to-date, evidence-based practices. By using the best available research and strategies, participants are more likely to make effective and long lasting behavior changes. One of the common approaches we use is Making a Plan.

What does it mean to make a plan?

Making a plan is a proactive strategy to help individuals develop a course of action to fall back on when they’re put in difficult situations. Before making a plan, a person must reflect on their previous choices, the outcomes related to those choices, and potential triggers that led to those decisions. Taking the time to reflect on past decisions will help a person identify the best strategies to use in future situations. Ultimately, making a plan is a way to think of difficult decisions ahead of time in a low-pressure setting before putting them to use in real-life situations. 

Practical Steps of Making a Plan

Making a plan always uses a personalized approach to help individuals pinpoint what will work best for them. It’s used in our drug and alcohol intervention courses to help users make positive decisions. Though final plans differ, the process involves the same practical steps:

  • Use the reflection and evaluation strategy to review past choices and their outcomes, both good and bad
  • Identify protective behaviors, which are strategies to “say no” during high-risk situations. Examples include telling others about your decision not to use and hanging out in places where substance use is not allowed.
  • Write down a plan of action for various scenarios - you can use a simple, “If _____, then ________” format for this. For example, if you tend to smoke when you are bored, one scenario could be, “If I am bored, then I will play a game on my phone.” 
  • Make a digital copy of the plan to store on your phone
  • Refer to the plan as needed and for encouragement 

Why Making a Plan is Useful 

The ability to make a plan is particularly helpful in situations that may be illegal or dangerous and can even save a person’s life. By having a plan in place, a person can avoid potential legal or health consequences. The strategy is also useful beyond drug-related situations and can be applied to many aspects of life that involve decision-making. Making a plan allows a person to plan well ahead of time to help them increase their confidence to make good choices through concrete actions. Though the plan may change or evolve, going through the steps of creating a plan and thinking through alternate options is an important first step.