HRD Innovation for Substance Abuse Prevention

By Broad, Mary L. | Training & Development, February 1996 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

HRD Innovation for Substance Abuse Prevention

Broad, Mary L., Training & Development

After years of expensive programs to curtail substance abuse, little progress has been made. Here's a look at several community programs that are working where others have not by applying principles from complex systems theory and ideas from learning communities.

Several innovative community development HRD programs address a social problem of great concern: the devastating and costly abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs (referred to as ATOD). After years of expensive public and private programs to treat drug abusers, catch dealers, punish offenders, and educate people on the dangers of drug abuse, complex problems associated with substance abuse still exist.

The Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) of the U.S. Public Health Service has funded several pioneering community prevention processes which are pushing the envelope of HRD principles and practices. The CSAP Training System has developed and delivered training to thousands of prevention professionals in public and private sector organizations, as well as to community prevention workers and grassroots volunteers nationwide. The community prevention programs reported here are based on coalition-building and community development, in line with recently developed concepts of the learning community. They are also in line with emerging concepts of complex adaptive systems, offering even more powerful approaches to community-based prevention efforts.

This article focuses on basic concepts of the learning community and complexity, implications for HRD in the integration of these concepts, and three community programs that apply the concepts to alcohol, tobacco, and other drug abuse prevention, both locally and nationally.

The learning community

Definitions. A community is a group of people who share strong common interests, such as in a neighborhood or a profession. A community has characteristics in common with a learning organization; therefore, Peter Senge's definition in The Fifth Discipline can be adapted:

A learning community is one in which community members "continually expand their capacity to produce the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning how to learn together."

A community also can be considered a complex open system. It is complex because it comprises many interrelated components; open because it is greatly affected by external forces (economic, sociotechnological, and so forth); and a system because it links inputs, processes, and outputs. Thus, a systems view of a community takes into account all the interrelated components, external forces, interactions, processes, and outputs.

Characteristics. A 1993 study by members of the Learning Organization Network of the American Society for Training and Development identified four systems factors that characterize learning organizations:

* a focus on the whole system

* use of multiple integrated change efforts

* the goal of team and/or system competence

* emphasis on double-loop learning (learning how to learn as well as learning new skills and knowledge).

These characteristics also can apply to learning communities, and are the first four items shown in figure 1.

David Barbee, of the Institute for Technological Solutions, defines other important characteristics of the learning community as a complex open system (see the second four items in figure 1):

* self-organization and collaboration

* distributed leadership

* derivation of responsibilities by community members

* constant flow of information.

Several of these learning community characteristics are closely related to action learning concepts. CSAP project officers Steve Seitz and Susan Hailman point out that these concepts were important design factors in developing the three CSAP-funded community prevention programs described in this article.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)


1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited article

HRD Innovation for Substance Abuse Prevention


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.