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Effective Drug Prevention Programs


Thanks to Rey Carr for passing along this reference.

Tobler, N.S. and Stratton, H.H. (1997). Effectiveness of school-based drug prevention programs: A meta-analysis of the research.

While including considerable technical details, this article provides definite and startling conclusions. The effectiveness of different types of drug prevention programs was examined in a meta-analysis of 120 school-based programs, grades 5 to 12 that evaluated success on self-reported drug use measures. Two major types of programs were identified: interactive and non-interactive. Interactive programs were clinically and statistically superior to non-interactive programs for tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, illicit drugs and for all adolescents including minority populations. Non-interactive programs primarily focus on teacher or leader presented materials, talks, or lectures where students have minimal interaction with each other, although they may be actively involved in discussions with the leader and an emphasis is placed on intrapersonal content. Interactive programs typically included involvement with a leader and attention to intrapersonal content but also emphasized significant student to student (peer) interpersonal contact where students not only interacted with the leader but also between and among themselves.

The authors present considerable evidence and argue strongly that non-interactive programs such as DARE and Here's Looking At You have little impact on drug use. Yet such programs seem to be widely adopted because they are easy to use and require few skills and little commitment, time or money.

(This article was originally published in 1997 in The Journal of Primary Prevention, 18, 1, 71-128.(RAC)