Academic journal article Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education

School-Based Drug Abuse Prevention Programs in High School Students

Academic journal article Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education

School-Based Drug Abuse Prevention Programs in High School Students

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Drug abuse, or substance abuse, is a substantial public health problem in the United States, particularly among high school students. The purpose of this article was to review school-based programs implemented in high schools for substance abuse prevention and to suggest recommendations for future interventions. Included were English language publications indexed in PubMed, CINAHL, or ERIC databases, between 2005 to November 2012, involving high school settings focused on prevention of drugs, and using a quantitative design for evaluation. A total of 18 studies met the criteria with 12 different interventions. Seven interventions were able to demonstrate statistically significant changes from before, to after the intervention, with regard to substance use. Recommendations for future interventions have been presented.

INTRODUCTION

Drug abuse or substance abuse is a major problem in the United States and the world particularly among young people. According to the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) done in 2011 in high schools (Eaton et al., 2012) in the United States 44.7% of students had ever tried cigarette smoking; 18.1% of students had smoked cigarettes on at least 1 day during the 30 days before the survey; 70.8% of students took at least one drink of alcohol on at least 1 day during their life; 38.7% of students took at least one drink of alcohol on at least 1 day during the 30 days before the survey; and 21.9% of students indulged in binge drinking or had five or more drinks of alcohol in a row on at least 1 day during the 30 days before the survey. In addition, 39.9% of students had used marijuana 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 used inhalants to get high one or more times during their life; and 8.2% of students had used ecstasy one or more times during their life. Of students who had used heroin, 2.9% had used one or more times during their life; 8.7% of students had used hallucinogenic drugs one or more times during their life; 3.8% of students had used methamphetamines one or more times during their life; and 2.3% of students had used a needle to inject any illegal drug into their body one or more times during their life. Substance use disorders have been shown to have a lifetime prevalence of 11.4% in the age group 13 to 18 years (Merikangas, et al., 2010). Alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco are the most widely used substances among high school students (Yule & Prince, 2012). All these statistics show that drug abuse is a major problem in high schools in our country.

There are some people who simply experiment with drugs, while others become addicted to its use. There is a very thin line between experimental use and getting dependent on the use of drugs. Drug dependence is a complex problem with involvement of several behavioral and social factors that are responsible for it. Therefore, both primary and secondary prevention programs are of utmost importance. One of the settings for primary prevention programs is the school setting. Schools are an important setting because most users begin the habit of using drugs while they are in school, as schools offer the means to reach a large number of young people, and schools can adopt and enforce several educational policies (Faggiano, 2005). In 2001 the federal government directed the use of evidence-based programs for substance abuse prevention in schools through the passage of the No Child Left Behind legislation (Ringwalt et al., 2011). Therefore, this article will focus on school-based programs used with high school students who are most vulnerable to using drugs, and prevention programs are most important for this group of population.

A Cochrane Review was done in 2005 of school-based programs aimed at reducing illicit drug use (Faggiano, 2005). The review included 32 controlled studies that used school-based curriculum. …

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