Dr. Gilbert J. Botvin Presents at Conference Addressing Substance Abuse among Military Personnel
WHITE PLAINS, NY – Dr. Gilbert J. Botvin, developer of the highly acclaimed Botvin LifeSkills Training substance abuse and violence prevention program, was an invited speaker at a scientific meeting sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in collaboration with the U.S. Army and other national organizations. The two-day meeting, titled "Addressing Substance Abuse and Co-morbidities Among Military Personnel, Veterans and Their Families: A Research Agenda," was held in Bethesda, MD, on January 6 – 7, 2009. Dr. Botvin described the LifeSkills Training program, summarized the 25 years of research supporting its effectiveness, and discussed the potential application of the LST approach for military personnel and their family.
The meeting focused on understanding the intervention needs of military personnel, veterans, and their families regarding substance abuse, as well as the potential of current prevention and treatment approaches for the military. Recent reports indicate that military personnel returning from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq experience serious challenges including traumatic brain injury (TBI), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and alcohol abuse. "The stress that these service members and their families are under can unfortunately lead to substance abuse problems," Dr. Botvin noted. "This conference was an extremely important first step in applying the advances in prevention and treatment to this population," he continued. The LST approach offers considerable potential. In addition to the school-based LST program, similar approaches have been developed for families and young adults in the workplace. Application of the LST model to the military would be an important new adaptation of this successful prevention model.
Participants reviewed existing prevention interventions to understand how to successfully conduct research in military and veteran settings. In a recent study of soldiers who had returned from Iraq, those screened several months after their return reported more mental health concerns and were referred at significantly higher rates for treatment than those at the initial post-deployment screening. Alcohol problems were frequently reported, but very few personnel were referred to alcohol treatment. Military operations have been described as particularly difficult for those in the reserve and National Guard. Deployed reserve and National Guard personnel with reported combat exposures are at increased risk of new-onset heavy weekly drinking, binge drinking, and alcohol-related problems. The National Institute on Drug Abuse plans on developing a new grant initiative to address the problem of substance abuse and related co-morbidities in the military.
About Botvin LifeSkills Training
Botvin LifeSkills Training is a highly effective and well-respected evidence-based substance abuse and violence prevention program with more than 25 years of peer-reviewed research behind it. The program was developed by Dr. Gilbert J. Botvin, professor of public health and psychiatry at Cornell University's Weill Medical College and director of Cornell's Institute for Prevention Research. He is also president of National Health Promotion Associates, which promotes evidence-based prevention and provides teacher training and technical assistance. Dr. Botvin is the former president of the Society for Prevention Research and editor-in-chief of Prevention Science. LifeSkills Training has been praised for its effectiveness and excellence by numerous organizations, including the U.S. Department of Education, the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (part of the U.S. Department of Justice). Studies testing its effectiveness have found that the Botvin LifeSkills Training program can reduce the prevalence of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug use by as much as 80 percent. Visit www.lifeskillstraining.com for more information.