Prevention of Substance Abuse
Prevention of Substance Abuse
The literature on prevention of substance abuse is extensive, diverse, uneven, and difficult to summarize. It encompasses intensive reviews of drug education research in general, well-documented experiments with specific school-based interventions, more cursory articles promoting a program but lacking any outcome data, pamphlets advertising curricula, and assorted other materials. This range reflects the fuzziness of the subject of substance abuse prevention and the specialized interests of those who work on it. Some efforts focus only on preventing cigarette smoking, others on alcohol abuse, a few include all substance-related behaviors. In programs directed toward alcohol abuse, there is no agreement on whether the goal should be abstinence or responsible decision making. There is little agreement about whether programs should focus only on substance abuse or deal with more general issues related to the predictors of substance use, such as family bonding and school failure. One school of thought adheres to the position that substance abuse issues should be dealt with in the context of comprehensive health education. Another approach to the prevention of substance abuse takes us away from school-based programs into the area of public policy. This view suggests that behavioral change will result from enforcing restrictive laws and policies and creating broader media efforts aimed at the whole society rather than youth. Many people attribute the decline in cigarette smoking to drastic shifts in public opinion about its social acceptability and safety following the release of a Surgeon General’s report 25 years ago that documented the negative health consequences of smoking. It is true that the changes in behavior even among adolescents took place in the late 1970s, prior to the initiation of most smoking prevention programs in schools in the early 1980s. Teen smoking behavior has changed much less during this decade than the prior one. The Advocacy Institute has proposed a number of priority policy actions to prevent smoking which include creating smoke-free workplaces and public spaces, increasing excise taxes on cigarettes (assuming a 10 percent increase in tax produces a 12 percent reduction in smoking!), compelling cigarette manufacturers to assume liability for smoke-caused deaths and diseases, neutralizing or reducing cigarette advertising and promotion, and restricting sales to minors.
Keywords: Adolescent Resources Corporation, Bridge Over Troubled Waters program, Centralized training, DARE project, Growing Healthy program, HLAY program, Interpersonal skills training, Kansas City programs, Life skills
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