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NIDA. (1997, February 1). NIDA Designs Research Guide to Aid Community Prevention Efforts. Retrieved from

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February 01, 1997
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.

NIDA participantA NIDA workshop participant checks out NIDA's new research-based prevention guide.

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."