School-based substance abuse prevention

I subscribe to a national substance abuse prevention listserv and when I read many posts it seems to me that there is a lot of misinformation out there regarding what substance abuse prevention is and is not.

With that in mind, I decided to start blogging again about principles of youth substance abuse prevention. Last month I blogged about general prevention principles and community-based prevention principles. Today, I blog about school-based prevention principles.

- Prevention programs can be designed to intervene as early as preschool to address risk factors for drug abuse, such as aggressive behavior, poor social skills, and academic difficulties.

- Prevention programs for elementary school children should target improving academic and social-emotional learning to address risk factors for drug abuse, such as early aggression, academic failure, and school dropout. Education should focus on the following skills:

emotional awareness;
social problem-solving; and
academic support, especially in reading.

- Prevention programs for middle or junior high and high school students should increase academic and social competence with the following skills:

study habits and academic support;
peer relationships;
self-efficacy and assertiveness;
drug resistance skills;
reinforcement of anti-drug attitudes; and
strengthening of personal commitments against drug abuse.
Prevention WINS started an evidence-based substance abuse prevention program, Life Skills Training, at Eckstein Middle School. Thanks to the dedication of Eckstein staff, that program continues to be taught. This curriculum is part of a larger community prevention strategy that now includes other tested and effective activities like alcohol purchase surveys, a social norms campaign, and advocacy.