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National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

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Tuesday, September 16, 2003


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New Research Spurs 2nd Printing of NIDA Prevention Guide
Preventing Drug Use in Young People Target of Expanded Publication

The National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, today released its newly updated publication, "Preventing Drug Use among Children and Adolescents: A Research-Based Guide for Parents, Educators, and Community Leaders, Second Edition." Launched at a meeting of the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America by NIDA Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow, the 46-page booklet — significantly larger than the first edition — aims to help prevent young people from using drugs.

Since its initial publication in 1997, more than 420 thousand copies of the first edition of "Preventing Drug Use Among Children and Adolescents: A Research-Based Guide" have been distributed to hundreds of organizations and individuals throughout the world.

"For almost 30 years, NIDA has supported a rigorous research program to determine what really works to help prevent drug abuse among America's young people," says Dr. Volkow. "We want to share what we have found through scientific inquiry with families and schools in every community across America."

This second edition reflects NIDA's expanded research program and knowledge base. Presented in a question-and-answer format, the new Guide is organized around 16 fundamental prevention principles derived from research on effective prevention programs. Brief descriptions of some of the 16 principles are:

  • Prevention programs should be designed to enhance protective factors and move toward reversing or reducing known risk factors.
  • Prevention programs should target all forms of drug abuse, including the use of tobacco and alcohol, illegal drugs such as marijuana, and the inappropriate use of legally obtained substances such as inhalants, prescription medicines, or over-the-counter drugs.
  • Prevention programs should target the drug abuse problems identified by the community.
  • Prevention programs for adolescents should be tailored to address risks specific to population or audience characteristics.
  • Prevention programs can be designed to intervene as early as preschool.
  • Community prevention programs that combine two or more effective programs can be more effective than a single program alone.
  • Prevention programs should be long-term with repeated interventions (booster programs) to reinforce the original prevention goals.
  • Research-based prevention programs are cost-effective. For every dollar spent on drug abuse prevention, communities can save up to $10 in costs for drug abuse treatment and counseling.

The new Guide contains an added chapter on community planning and more information on core elements in research-based prevention programs. Numerous examples of programs that have been scientifically studied and found effective in preventing youth drug use are provided. The programs are categorized as universal (reaching the general population), selective (targeting groups at risk or subsets of the general population), indicated (designed for people already experimenting with drugs or exhibiting risk-related behaviors), and tiered (which adopts universal, selective, and indicated program elements).

"With the growing problem of adolescent drug use, there is a need to make better use of scientific knowledge to provide more enduring and effective drug prevention approaches," Dr. Volkow says. "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."

To obtain a copy of the Guide, or an abbreviated version, contact the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information at 1-800-729-6686.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports more than 85 percent of the world's research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to ensure the rapid dissemination of research information and its implementation in policy and practice. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs of abuse and further information on NIDA research can be found on the NIDA web site at http://www.drugabuse.gov.


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