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Drug prevention begins with education - at school, at home and within the community. There are currently 15 million drug users in the United States and an increasingly large number of those are children. Outcome studies show that early drug prevention programs must give young children the truth - ugly as it may be - in order to be effective. Given the truth, vital information and facts, and the tools they need to make their own choice to stay away from drugs has proven to have impressive results. Drug prevention research has shown that there are various factors that could influence the probability of drug use in youth. Environmental influences include: child abuse, exposure to drugs, lack of supervision, media influence, and peer pressure. Internal factors within the child include poor self-esteem, poor social skills, attitudes about drugs, and many others. Key risk periods for drug abuse occur during major transitions in a child's life, including puberty, parentsí divorcing, moving, even leaving the security of the home and entering school. School transitions such as from elementary to middle school or middle school to high school can be times that children and teenagers make new friends and are more susceptible to fall into environments where there are drugs available. Binge drinking has been shown to increase once an individual leaves the home to attend college or live on their own.

There are numerous community-based drug prevention programs that are thought to be helpful in educating children and families about the harms of substance abuse. There are mediating factors of classroom-based substance abuse that have been analyzed through research. Getting the community outside of the school to participate and also using peer leaders to facilitate the interactions tend to be an effective facet of these programs. Lastly, teaching youth and adolescents skills that increase resistance skills in social situations may increase protective factors in that population. A concept known as "environmental prevention" focuses on changing community conditions or policies so that the availability of substances is reduced as well as the demand.

Life Skills Training (LST) was developed by Gilbert J. Botvin in 1996 and revised in 2000. LST is significant in giving adolescents skills and information that are needed to resist social influences to substances, including alcohol, cigarettes, and other illicit drugs. The goal of this program is to increase personal and social competence, confidence and self-efficacy to reduce motivations to use drugs and be involved in harmful social environments.

Project ALERT includes educational handouts, lesson plans, phone support, downloadable resources, and posters that were designed to motivate seventh and eighth grade students to not use alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana. This program's goal is to give students motivation to resist engaging in drug use by giving them assertiveness tools. Two evaluations of Project ALERT , first in the 1980s and then in 2003, showed that there were significant positive results in reducing risk factors and drug use. A study done by St. Pierre, Osgood, et al.,(2005) found no positive effects which could be influenced by implementation differences. Analysis has shown that the benefits of this program exceeds the costs.


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