NIH Press Release

National Institute on Drug Abuse

Thursday, Mar. 06, 1997

Mona W. Brown
Sheryl Massaro
(301) 443-6245

New Research-Based Guide Now Available
to Help Prevent Teen Drug Use

HHS' National Institute on Drug Abuse today released the first research-based guide to preventing young people from using drugs. A first printing of more than 100,000 copies of the new guide will be distributed to schools and community groups nationwide in the coming months.

"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 HHS Secretary 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."

The new guide, "Preventing Drug Use Among Children and Adolescents: A Research-Based Guide," is organized around 14 prevention principles distilled from research on effective prevention techniques, and notes that every dollar spent for effective prevention programs can save $4 to $5 in the costs of treatment and counseling.

The principles call for targeting all forms of drug abuse, including alcohol and tobacco as well as illegal drugs. They also call for prevention efforts that strengthen anti-drug norms in schools and communities and that teach skills for resisting drugs when offered. And they call for enhancing "protective factors" like family bonds and good school performance, as well as addressing risk factors for drug abuse.

The Guide also includes a checklist for communities to use in evaluating their own anti-drug efforts.

Speaking at the 20th annual PRIDE conference in Atlanta, GA, where he announced the availability of the new booklet, Dr. Alan I. Leshner, director of NIDA said, "With the growing problem of adolescent drug use, there is a need to make better use of scientific knowledge to produce more enduring and effective drug prevention approaches. While each community should choose a drug prevention program that's right for local circumstances, we hope these guidelines will help them identify and incorporate the most critical proven elements."

Designed in an easy to read, easy to apply format, "Preventing Drug Use Among Children and Adolescents" summarizes knowledge gleaned from over 20 years of research and suggests how to apply it to successfully prevent drug use among young people. The 14 basic principles needed for prevention programs to be effective include:

Presented in a question and answer format, the guide addresses important issues regarding prevention, including, the origins and pathways of drug abuse and how these concepts are used to develop prevention intervention strategies. The guide summarizes the results of research related to the prevention of drug abuse and explains the importance of this research for teachers, parents or others concerned about preventing drug use among youth. The guide also answers questions commonly asked by community leaders and prevention practitioners in a way that they can use these research findings to design and implement programs to address drug abuse problems at the local level.

The guide provides 10 examples of programs that have been scientifically studied and have been found to be effective in preventing youth drug use. The programs are categorized as universal (reaching the general population), selective (targeting groups at risk or subsets of the general population), or indicated (designed for people already experimenting with drugs or exhibiting risk-related behaviors).

Also included in the guide is an extensive list of resources to get supporting information on drug abuse prevention or to speak directly with scientists who have developed and/or evaluated effective prevention programs.

NIDA supports over 85% of the world's research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. The Institute also carries out a large variety of programs to ensure the rapid dissemination of research information and its implementation in policy and practice.

Copies of the prevention guide can be obtained free of charge from the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI) at 1-800-729-6686. Additional information on prevention and other research activities of NIDA can be found on the NIDA Home Page at

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