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National Conference on Drug Abuse Prevention Research:
Presentations, Papers, and Recommendations



Alan I. Leshner, Ph.D.
National Institute on Drug Abuse

National Conference on Drug Abuse Prevention Research

For the past 20 years, the National Institute on Drug Abuse has supported extensive research into the design and testing of theory-based drug abuse prevention interventions that have the potential for effectively addressing one of America's most serious public health problems - drug abuse and addiction. At the "National Conference on Drug Abuse Prevention Research: Putting Research to Work for the Community," we had the extraordinary opportunity for research and community practitioners to work together to review the research; explore its ramifications for individuals, families, and communities; and develop recommendations for future collaborations and applications of this knowledge in settings across the country.

At the conference, we were privileged to hear keynote addresses by Donna E. Shalala, Ph.D., Secretary of Health and Human Services, and General Barry R. McCaffrey, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. During plenary sessions, five senior scientists from research institutions across the country presented an overview of the risk and protective factors that lead to or deter drug use and abuse and described the most effective components of successful prevention programs. They highlighted specific approaches to implementing drug abuse prevention programs in schools, communities, and families. Each scientist expanded on these presentations to produce comprehensive papers for this volume. Subsequent to the conference, two additional research papers on reaching at-risk youth and on family-based prevention were commissioned to provide additional examples of successful prevention interventions. To begin building the bridge between research and practice, the conference included a series of workshops that provided an open forum for the interchange between the panel presenters and conference participants. These workshops, led by a panel of researchers, National Prevention Network representatives from States, and prominent community practitioners, provided opportunities to share perspectives and expertise.

As we all know, research knowledge must be applied if it is to have an impact on the drug problem. To do that, we need to energize the community of concerned and caring parents, community leaders, educators, and governmental officials to demand that scientific knowledge be incorporated into new and established programs at the community level. This conference was the first step to help link prevention science to community action. Since then, NIDA has published a series of publications on prevention research to assist local communities. NIDA published "Preventing Drug Use Among Children and Adolescents: A Research-Based Guide," a booklet that provides a short summary of research and resources and references where more information can be obtained. NIDA also published a series of "Drug Abuse Prevention Publications and Resource Manuals," which describe some of the latest research, provide a process for determining community readiness for prevention, and then instruct on how to conduct the intervention. Later this year, NIDA will publish a new Research Monograph that summarizes the design, progress, and outcomes of prevention intervention studies that focus on the family. It is our hope that this conference report will provide a valuable resource as you commit your energy and enthusiasm to addressing this important public health problem.

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