Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention (School-based)

School-based drug and alcohol prevention programs occur during the school day, or on school campuses. Because drug and alcohol use is highly influenced by the attitudes and perceived norms of peers, school-based approaches that are open to every student in the school are needed, in addition to approaches that target drug-using teens (Winters, 2007). School-based programs may include school-day, extended-day, or afterschool programs, may be delivered by school personnel or by community-based facilitators, and may be mandatory (like a health education class) or voluntary (like an elective or a drop in afterschool program).

Effective approaches to school-based drug and alcohol prevention include teaching students how to resist peer influences, improving generic life skills, involving families, and providing opportunities to become involved in positive experiences with others in the school and community (NIDA, 2003). In contrast, ineffective approaches include those that group substance users together (NIDA, 2003) and approaches that focus only on information dissemination or teaching about the dangers of substance use (Dishion & Andrews, 1995; NIDA, 2003; Soole et al., 2005; Tobler et al., 2003). Effective programs for elementary school students address issues such as self-control, emotional awareness, communication skills, and social problem-solving skills; and effective programs for older students seek to build communication skills; self-efficacy and assertiveness, and drug resistance skills (NIDA, 2003).

Substance use prevention programs should be long-term and include booster sessions to prevent program impacts from decaying over time (NIDA, 2003, Botvin & Griffin, 2003). Programs should also be implemented for an adequate number of hours (at least 11 hours, according to Tobler et al., 2000). When substance use is rampant within the community, school-based drug prevention programs can be implemented in conjunction with community-based strategies that reduce risk factors such as the availability of drugs and alcohol and promote norms that discourage underage drinking and drug use (Winters, 2007).

Questions your program should answer:

  1. To What Extent Is the Program Being Delivered as Intended?
  2. To What Extent Are Participants Engaged in the Program?. 
  3. To What Extent Are Interactive Teaching Techniques Being Used?
  4. To What Extent Is the Program Teaching Skills to Avoid Drug and Alcohol Use?
  5. To What Extent Is the Program Being Delivered by Competent Facilitators?
  6. To What Extent Are Individuals Participating in Services?

By ChildTrends 


Sources Cited

Botvin, G. J., & Griffin, K. W. (2003). Drug abuse prevention curricula in schools. In Z. Sloboda & W. J. Bukoski (Eds.), Handbook of drug abuse prevention: Theory, science, and practice (pp. 45-74). New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers. doi:10.1007/0-387-35408-5_3

Dishion, T. J. and D. A. Andrews (1995). Preventing escalation in problem behaviors with high-risk young adolescents: Immediate and 1-year outcomes. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 63, 538-548. doi:10.1037//0022-006X.63.4.538

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2003). Preventing drug use among children and adolescents: A research-based guide for parents, educators, and community leaders.

Soole, D. W., Mazerolle, L., & Rombouts, S. (2005). Monograph no. 07: School based drug prevention: A systematic review of the effectiveness on illicit drug use: DPMP Monograph Series. Fitzroy: Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Treatment Centre.

Tobler, N. S., Roona, M. R., Ochshorn, P., Marshall, D. G., Streke, A. V., & Stackpole, K. M. (2000). School-based adolescent drug prevention programs: 1998 meta-analysis. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 20(4), 275-336.

Winters, K.C., Fawkes, T., Fahnhorst, T., Botzet, A., & August, G. (2007). A synthesis review of exemplary drug abuse prevention programs in the United States. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 32, 371-380. doi:10.1016/j.jsat.2006.10.002