Volume 12, Number 1
NIDA Designs Research Guide to Aid Community Prevention
By Sharon Cargo
NIDA has released an important new resource to help community leaders,
service providers, parents, and teachers prevent drug abuse among children
and teenagers. Preventing Drug Use Among Children and Adolescents: A Research-Based
Guide is a booklet designed by NIDA to help communities apply the results
of drug abuse prevention research to their local prevention efforts. Approximately
100,000 copies of the guide will be distributed to schools and communities
throughout the United States.
"Over the past 20 years, HHS and the National Institute on Drug
Abuse have supported a rigorous research program to determine what really
works to help prevent drug abuse among our youth," said Health and
Human Services Secretary Dr. Donna E. Shalala. "Today we have assembled
what we know, and we want to share it with families and schools in every
community across America."
Written in a question-and-answer format, Preventing Drug Use Among Children
and Adolescents is the first research-based guide to describe in plain language
the elements of successful drug abuse prevention programs. It explains what
researchers know about the risk and protective factors that differentiate
those children who use drugs from those who do not. Various scientists and
organizations representing drug abuse prevention and treatment providers,
researchers, parents, teachers, counselors, and social workers collaborated
with NIDA to develop the guide.
"With the growing problem of adolescent drug use," says NIDA
Director Dr. Alan I. Leshner, "there is a need to make better use of
scientific knowledge to produce more effective and enduring drug prevention
approaches. While each community should choose a drug prevention program
that best matches its needs, we hope these guidelines will help them identify
and incorporate the proven critical elements."
The guide answers questions about how to design, implement, and assess
drug abuse prevention programs and provides a checklist to help community
leaders and agencies determine whether existing programs include any of
the 14 research-tested principles for drug abuse prevention that are presented
in the booklet. These principles have been tested and proven effective in
family, school, or community settings.
A NIDA workshop participant checks out NIDA's new research-based prevention
One basic principle is that prevention programs must minimize or reverse
drug abuse risk factors, such as poor social skills, aggressiveness, and
poor school performance, and enhance protective factors, such as strong
family relationships and success in school. For example, prevention programs
can enhance protective factors by encouraging parents to talk to their children
about drugs. Drug abuse prevention programs also strengthen protective factors
by teaching adolescents communication and social skills to help them resist
drug offers, increase their assertiveness, and enhance positive peer relationships.
The booklet points out that drug abuse prevention programs have proven
to be cost-effective: "For every dollar spent on drug use prevention,
communities can save $4 to $5 in costs for drug abuse treatment and counseling."
From NIDA NOTES, January/February, 1997
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