Certain School-Based Substance Abuse Prevention Programs Work

Posted on May 11th, 2011
Posted in Teens

A large-scale international review has found that some school programs focused on preventing and curbing alcohol abuse are effective enough for widespread use. The most effective programs reduced episodes of drunkenness and binge drinking.

David Foxcroft of Oxford Brookes University in England, and lead author of the review, said that school-based prevention programs that focus on classroom behavior management or social skills can help reduce alcohol abuse in young people. However, there is evidence that suggests that these approaches are not always effective. The reasons for these inconsistent results remain unclear, he added.

Foxcroft and co-author Alexander Tsertsvadze of the University of Ottawa Evidence-Based Practice Center in Canada, looked at 53 randomized, controlled trials completed in a range of countries (North America, Europe, Australia, India, and Swaziland) among youth between the ages of 5 to 18.

Most of the studies assessed generic prevention programs that focused on risky behaviors such as drinking, smoking, and using drugs, and the rest focused on alcohol programs. The researchers compared drinking behaviors among those who took part in various school-based programs to those who didn’t take part in these programs. Those who participated in school-based programs may have also been exposed to family-based programs.

The researchers found that using certain generic prevention programs were more effective than alcohol-specific ones. The Life Skills Training Program, the Unplugges Program, and the Good Behavior Game were cited as particularly effective programs.

David Jernigan, Ph.D, director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said that these findings are very important because they suggest that some school-based prevention programs can work. He added that a $300 million federal program supporting school-based programs was terminated last year, partly due to research suggesting that these programs don’t work. This study, however, suggests the opposite.

Jernigan and the study authors noted that even if these programs have small effects on preventing or delaying teen drinking, they could still result in major cost savings through health care, social services, and more, in addition to saving lives and improving adolescent health and wellbeing.

Source: Medical News Today, Some School-Based Programs Curb Alcohol Misuse, May 11, 2011

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