Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Building on Our Strengths: Canadian Standards for School-based Substance Abuse Prevention

Last week I saw that the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse had published a set of standards for school based drug prevention.

As my colleague at Mentor UK is in the process of thinking through how something similar – although not exclusively school based – might work in the UK I thought I’d ask her a couple of questions about what the Canadians are saying.

The five standards that are addressed in the document are:

  1. Assess the situation
  2. Prepare a clear and realistic plan
  3. Build capacity and sustainability
  4. Implement a comprehensive initiative
  5. Evaluate the initiative

In terms of assessing drug education they suggest a number of questions:

  • Are the intended outcomes both skills- and knowledge-based?
  • Is drug education in some way integrated with other health issues and skills development to make it more manageable for teachers?
  • Are the instructional methods used mainly interactive or lecture-based?
  • Does instruction reflect progression based on development and experiences of students throughout the grades?
  • Are teachers routinely trained on evidence-based drug education, clarifying the goals of drug education and ensuring activities are linked to those goals?

They go on to suggest that:

With drug education, the central challenge lies in managing the exploration of an activity such as binge alcohol use, which is illegal, harmful and common among students in most parts of Canada from about Grade 9 onwards. Each school or board should work through this challenge, consulting widely and referring to the best available data (e.g., provincial/district student substance use survey). Since a mistake or poor choice can result in significant harm or even death, the best advice is this: as binge alcohol use or any other substance-related risk behaviour becomes normative in a specific age group, health education instruction must include exploration of ways to reduce the hazardous behaviour and harms that could arise while continuing to present non-use as a health-promoting option.

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Filed under: Drug Education Forum Members, drug prevention, International

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