Topic: Substance Abuse Prevention (Child & Adolescent) Programs
Definition for Substance Abuse Prevention (Child & Adolescent) Programs:
Substance Abuse Prevention (Child & Adolescent) Programs is defined by the CEBC as 1) primary or universal prevention programs which are designed to prevent substance use, including alcohol, marijuana, and/or other drugs from occurring for the first time in children and adolescents, or 2) secondary or selective prevention programs targeted at individuals or families who are at high risk for substance use and abuse, with a goal of either preventing substance use from occurring or delaying onset of substance use. Programs may target youth directly as well as their parents and other family members, teachers, and other members of a youth’s ecosystem. Substance Abuse Prevention (Child & Adolescent) Programs differ in terms of timing, and may target early, middle, or late adolescents. These programs may occur in a variety of settings, including schools, homes, other community settings, and health care settings. Many universal and selective substance abuse prevention programs are delivered in group settings, but may also be self-administered via an instruction manual, online delivery, or an app.
Programs targeted at substance abuse prevention aim to reduce risk factors and enhance or promote protective factors. Known risk factors for adolescent substance use include poor parent-child communication, low parental monitoring, family stress, negative peer influences, low academic achievement, poor sense of belonging at school, mental health difficulties, and poor self-regulation and inhibitory control. Known protective factors include family relationships characterized by warmth, acceptance, and support; open parent-child communication; clear rules and expectations about substance use; and individual resiliency. In addition, school-based prevention programs often aim to address school and peer norms around substance use and to improve school climate related to substance use.
While there are many programs targeting high-risk families that may be effective in preventing substance use long-term, this definition only includes those programs for which substance use prevention is explicitly stated to be a goal of the program. In addition to preventing, reducing or stopping actual substance use, outcomes targeted by substance use prevention programs may include knowledge of substance use, school and peer norms around substance use, social and refusal skills, future intentions to use, and perceptions of risk associated with substance use.
- Target population: School-age children and adolescents , including those at higher risk for substance use, and their families
- Services/types that fit: School-, family-, and community-based programs, educational efforts (including parent education programs and universal efforts to educate children on substance use), support groups, and family support and strengthening programs
- Delivered by: Educators, social services providers, mental health professionals, trained paraprofessionals, and peer or family partners. Some programs are self-administered via an instruction manual, online delivery, or an app.
- In order to be included: Program must specifically target preventing child and adolescent substance use and/or abuse as a goal (may be a primary or secondary program goal).
- In order to be rated: There must be research evidence (as specified by Scientific Rating Scale) that examines at least one of the following: 1) outcomes related to the prevention of substance abuse, such as changes in substance use knowledge, attitudes, and intentions; 2) outcomes that measure substance use behaviors, such as lower levels of use or decreased/delayed use. Research studies that assess outcomes longitudinally, rather than solely at postintervention, are prioritized; as are studies that examine program impacts on actual substance use behaviors..
Programs in this Topic Area
The programs listed below have been reviewed by the CEBC and, if appropriate, been rated using the Scientific Rating Scale.
One Program with a Scientific Rating of 1 - Well-Supported by Research Evidence:
- Familias UnidasThe parents of Hispanic adolescents between 12-16 years old and the adolescents
One Program with a Scientific Rating of 2 - Supported by Research Evidence:
- Family MattersParents of adolescents 12-14 years of age
Two Programs with a Scientific Rating of 3 - Promising Research Evidence:
- CMCA: Communities Mobilizing for Change on AlcoholStructures, institutions, and existing leaders in communities that desire to reduce underage drinking by youth who are 13-20 years of ...
- Residential Student Assistance Program (RSAP)Adolescents (12-18 year olds) with multiple problems who have been placed voluntarily or involuntarily in a residential child care facility (...
Three Programs with a Scientific Rating of NR - Not able to be Rated:
- Families Facing the FutureParents receiving methadone treatment and their children ages 5-14
- Positive Family Support (PFS) ProgramThe parents and families of middle school-age children (Grade 6-Grade 8); the content is not presented directly to children
- Youth Message Development (YMD)Adolescents 12-17 years old
Sarah Dauber, PhD, Research Scientist, Associate Director of Adolescent and Family Research
Center on Addiction
New York, NY