Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Assessing Changes in Global Drug Problems, 1998-2007

The Rand Corporation have published an assessment of global drug policy.

Included in their assessment is a section on prevention. They note that rehetoric about prevention is increasingly prominent in drug policy (citing the UK’s drug strategy as a case in point), but say that spending isn’t necessarily following.  They say:

Estimates of drug control expenditures for the Netherlands (Rigter, 2006) and Sweden (Ramsted, 2006) show that prevention programs account for a very small part of the total, 2% in the case of the Netherlands and 1% in the case of Sweden. Australia is an outlier, with an estimated 23 percent of the drug control budget going to prevention (Moore, 2005). For most countries such estimates are not available. The principal funded programs are school based; some countries eschew mass media campaigns.

Perhaps more worryingly they point out:

Though there is research evidence that effective school based programs are possible the programs that are adopted often have no demonstrated effectiveness (EMCDDA, 2008).

Filed under: drug prevention, International

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

Read the rest of this entry »

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

Is Public Health Best Served By Targeted Or Universal Prevention?

Shamblen_SR_2Mike Ashton has been looking at research which examines the relative effect of universal, targeted or indicated prevention.

The analysis suggests that different types of prevention are more effective with different substances as his chart (right) suggest.

However, as Mike points out, things aren’t always clear:

Universal programmes also face complicating issues. They may lead the population as a whole to reduce use of the targeted substances, but within this population may at the same time exacerbate inequalities in use and health. This happens because well resourced individuals and groups are best able to take on board and act on health promotion messages, while the most vulnerable are less able to do so.

He also reminds us that some approaches to drug prevention are counter-productive.  He concludes:

In the end these decisions must be taken on the basis of how things stand in a particular population for a particular problem related to a particular substance, and the adequacy of the interventions which can be brought to bear on those problems.

It’s a very interesting piece so go read it all.

Filed under: drug prevention

Remarkable prevention outcomes from primary school good behaviour strategy

Mike Ashton, of Drug and Alcohol Findings, has been in touch to let me know about more research that he thinks we could be interested in:

It didn’t mention drugs, wasn’t even a lesson, but this behaviour management intervention trialled in Baltimore’s first and second grade classrooms produced some of the most substantial and long-lasting effects ever recorded from a school-based prevention programme. At ages 6 to 8, pupils formed teams which could earn prizes and praise for good behaviour during lessons; 14 years later, many fewer young lives were marred by substance-related problems, threatened by smoking, or on track to cause serious social problems.

Filed under: drug prevention, research

Youth Crime

Beverly Hughes speech outlines the government’s approach to youth crime:

At the heart of our philosophy is what we have called the triple track approach, which means firstly taking tough enforcement action when behaviour is going across the line – when it is unacceptable or illegal. It’s essential that the boundaries of acceptable behaviour are not compromised – and I make no apologies for that.

But also means, secondly, giving support to young people – and sometimes parents – to address the underlying causes of bad behaviour. Not ‘take it or leave it’ support – but support with conditions attached – non-negotiable, something for something. The kind of support that Family Intervention Projects exemplifies very, very well.

And, thirdly, means having much better prevention and early intervention to tackle problems before they escalate in seriousness or become more entrenched.

Filed under: drug prevention

Evaluating Mediation in Longitudinal Multivariate Data: Mediation Effects for the Aban Aya Youth Project Drug Prevention Program

cover-mediumPrevention Science have a paper out about the impact of the Aban Aya Youth Project. The researchers say that previous studies had shown that the project had been successful in reducing the growth in a number of negative behaviours including substance use amongst African American teenagers.  This study hoped to show that the effect of the programme on substance use were achieved through changes in processes; such as behavioural intentions, estimates of peers and best friends behaviours and peer pressure.

The researchers found that:

Results showed that the AAYP [Aban Aya Youth Project] intervention effects on adolescent drug use were mediated by normative beliefs of prevalence estimates, friends’ drug use behavior, perceived friends’ encouragement to use, and attitudes toward the behavior.

Read the abstract.

Filed under: drug prevention, research, USA

Evaluating Mediators of the Impact of the Linking the Interests of Families and Teachers (LIFT) Multimodal Preventive Intervention on Substance Use Initiation and Growth Across Adolescence

cover-mediumHere’s an abstract of some research published in Prevention Science:

Substance use outcomes were examined for 351 youth participating in a randomized controlled trial designed to assess the efficacy of a school-based multimodal universal preventive intervention, Linking the Interests of Families and Teachers (LIFT). Frequency of any use of tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs was assessed via self-report from grades 5 through 12. Latent variable growth models specified average level, linear growth and accelerated growth. The LIFT intervention had a significant effect on reducing the rate of growth in use of tobacco and illicit drugs, particularly for girls, and had an overall impact on average levels of use of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs. Average tobacco use reductions were mediated by increases in family problem solving. The intervention had significant indirect effects on growth in substance use through intervention effects on reduced playground aggression and increased family problem solving. The intervention was also associated with roughly a 10% reduced risk in initiating tobacco and alcohol use. Implications for future studies of multimodal preventive interventions are discussed.

You can find out more about LIFT here, where they say:

Child social skills training sessions are held during the regular school day and are broken into distinct segments. The first segment includes 1) classroom instruction and discussion about specific social and problem-solving skills, 2) skills practice in small and large groups, 3) free play in the context of a group cooperation game, and 4) review and presentation of daily rewards. The second segment includes a formal class problem-solving session and free play and rewards. The curriculum is similar for all elementary school students, but delivery format, group exercises, and content emphasis are modified to address normative developmental issues depending on the grade level of the participants.

Filed under: drug prevention, research

Thematic paper on indicated prevention

indicated-prevention3The EMCDDA have a new paper on indicated prevention, for those of us who might not have come across this phrase before they explain:

Indicated prevention is a relatively new branch of drug prevention and can be seen as the third part of the ‘prevention chain’, after universal and selective prevention. Its aim is not necessarily to prevent drug use or initiation to it, but rather to prevent the development of dependence, diminish frequency of use and avert ‘dangerous’ patterns of substance use (e.g. moderate instead of binge-drinking).

Whilst I’d be lying if I said I’ve had a chance to read the paper in full I have had a quick look at the conclusions drawn, which the authors sumarise:

First, there is a clear need for new programmes for at-risk groups that until now have received little attention, such as children in foster care or children placed in institutions and/or child psychiatric patients. Secondly, in all the fields where children with problem behaviour are screened in schools, in a family, in peer recruitment, or work context the instruments used to identify these groups must be harmonised across Europe. Finally, those interventions that were found to meet the highest standards in the classification (level 3) should be implemented in other countries — if necessary, adapted to national systems and culture.

Filed under: drug prevention

Report of the International Narcotics Control Board for 2008

incbThe report that generated quite a bit of press interest yesterday is now available for all of us to read.

As you’d expect it’s a long document, 150 closely typed pages, and while much of it isn’t really relevant to our particular interest there is a useful chapter focusing on prevention.

The report suggests that:

For all Governments, understanding what prevention policies work and why is one of the greatest challenges.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: drug prevention, International

Do Predictors of the Implementation Quality of School-Based Prevention Programs Differ by Program Type?

There’s always a tension between implementing a programme as it is “on the box” and allowing it to be adapted to meet the needs of pupils and circumstance.  Here researchers are trying to tie down which factors seem to be important:

As the importance of implementation has become clear, researchers have identified factors that appear to be related to implementation quality, including local program selection and training, integration into school operations, organizational capacity, principal support, and program standardization; however, it is unknown whether the impact of these factors differs by program type.

Filed under: drug prevention, research

About this blog

This blog tries to pick up relevant media and research stories about drug education. It mainly focuses on information in England as this is the geographical remit for the Drug Education Forum. We welcome comments that are on topic.

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