Enhancing Effectiveness of School-Based Drug Abuse Prevention Interventions

Article excerpt

Drug abuse is a significant problem affecting youth. According to the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance (YRBS) data: 39.9% of students had used marijuana one or more times during their life, 23.1% of students had used marijuana one or more times during the 30 days before the survey, 5.9% of students had used marijuana on school property one or more times during the 30 days before the survey; 6.8% of students had used any form of cocaine one or more times during their life, 3.0% of students had used any form of cocaine one or more times during the 30 days before the survey, 11.4% of students had sniffed glue, breathed the contents of aerosol spray cans, or inhaled any paints or sprays to get high one or more times during their life; 8.2% of students had used ecstasy one or more times during their life, 2.9% of students had used heroin one or more times during their life, 3.8% of students had used methamphetamines one or more times during their life, 8.7% of students had used hallucinogenic drugs one or more times during their life, and 25.6% of students had been offered, sold, or given an illegal drug by someone on school property during the 12 months before the survey (Eaton et al., 2012).

School based interventions are a popular approach in addressing the problem of drug abuse. Researchers have mentioned that such approaches offer greater reach, enhanced effectiveness, and higher ecological validity (Wagner, Tubman, & Gil, 2004). There have been several school-based interventions that have been developed, implemented, and evaluated in schools to prevent the problem of drug abuse. An example of one such intervention is the Project Towards No Drug Abuse (TND) (Rohrbach, Gunning, Sun, & Sussman, 2010; Rohrbach, Sun, & Sussman, 2010). This intervention aims at reducing substance use and violence-related behaviors through the use of a motivational, skills, and decision-making approach. Through a classroom-based curriculum of 12 sessions, spread out over a period of 4 weeks, it covers cognitive motivation enhancement activities, consequences of drug use, correction of misperceptions, enhancement of communication and coping skills, and techniques for tobacco cessation. In an evaluation of this program, 65 high schools were randomized to three conditions, namely regular workshop training, comprehensive implementation support, or standard care control (Rohrbach, Sun, & Sussman, 2010). The program was delivered by physical education and health teachers. The program showed a significant effect in lowering marijuana use from baseline to post one-year, and also significant program effects on hard drug use for baseline non-users.

Another example of an intervention is the one developed by Werch and colleagues (2005) called the Project SPORT consultation. The intervention is based on the Behavior-Image Model and consists of the use of positive personal and social images that serve as key motivators for health behaviors. The specific components of this approach include an in-person health behavior screen, a one-on-one consultation, a prescription for fitness and substance abuse risk and protective factors, and a flyer with salient content identified during consultation mailed to the home. The intervention was tested in a randomized control trial with one group receiving Project SPORT, and the other group receiving a wellness brochure provided in school, and a pamphlet about teen health and fitness mailed to the home. The results of the evaluation showed that at three months, the Project SPORT group had significant positive effects for alcohol consumption, alcohol initiation behaviors, alcohol use risk and protective factors, drug use behaviors, and exercise habits. At 12-months, follow-up alcohol-use risk and protective factors, cigarette use, and cigarette initiation were significant.

Another example of a substance abuse prevention intervention is from Japan, developed and evaluated by Nozu and colleagues (2006) and it is the social influence program. …