Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Substance use outcomes 5½ years past baseline for partnership-based, family-school preventive interventions.

Mike Ashton, of Drug and Alcohol Findings, has a review of research into US drug prevention which mixes school and family interventions.

He says:

Two of the most widely recommended US school and family prevention programmes retarded growth in some forms of substance use, especially among youngsters who had already used by their early teens, but there are some methodological concerns over the findings.

Mike explains the findings from the research suggested that the programmes, Life Skills Training and Strengthening Families Programme, appears to have an impact on higher risk young people in the following ways:

the most which can be said is that the LifeSkills Training element probably retarded the initiation of smoking, possibly cannabis use, but not drinking, had no cross-sample benefits in respect of the forms of substance use of greatest concern, but may have had such benefits among the minority of pupils already relatively advanced in their substance use before the interventions started.

Mike goes on to point to the methodological issues with the study which include an over-emphasis on the positive outcomes from the research, and the fact that the findings on at risk young people should be considered tentative (as this wasn’t the focus of the research).

Mike argues that:

This leaves two of the most thoroughly researched universal prevention programmes for children of secondary school age with mixed findings of uncertain relevance to how they might perform if truly applied across the board. At least part of the problem lies in not in whether the benefits of these programmes are (or at least, can be) real, but in the difficulty of showing they are real.

He concludes that the difficulties in designing and measuring school based drug prevention programmes doesn’t mean they can’t be effective, nor should schools neglect their pupils education in this field.

 

Read the whole thing here.

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