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Universal Drug Abuse Prevention Program Found Effective with High-Risk Inner-City School Population


Study is the First To Show Prevention Program Targeting all Students is Effective with High Risk Youth

New York, NY, December 17-- 2002 - Results of a study of youth from 29 inner city middle schools participating in a randomized, controlled prevention trial, has shown for the first time that a universal, school-based prevention program that teaches drug refusal skills, and other essential behaviors is effective with inner-city youth who are at higher than average risk of substance abuse initiation.

"Universal school-based prevention programs for alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use have typically been designed for all students within a particular school setting. However, it has been unclear whether such programs can be effective for those further along the continuum of risk, such as young people with one or more risk factors for substance abuse initiation," said the study's lead investigator, Kenneth W. Griffin, Ph.D., M.P.H., Institute for Prevention Research, Weill Medical College of Cornell University. These factors include peer social influence (friends' use of alcohol and tobacco) and poor grades in school.

In the new study, the intervention program known as LifeSkills Training (LST) was implemented to teach drug resistance skills, norms against substance abuse, important personal management skills, and general social skills to a sub-sample (21%) of 426 youth at high-risk. These skills are taught using a combination of teaching techniques -- including group discussion, demonstration, modeling, behavioral rehearsal (in-class practice), feedback and reinforcement, and behavioral 'homework' assignments for out-of-class practice.

The sample was comprised of economically disadvantaged, inner-city youth, as indicated by the fact that 61% were students who received free lunch at school and more than one-third of students lived in mother-only households. 49% of the sample were male, and 51% female, 58% were African-American and 29% were Hispanic.

Findings reported less smoking, drinking, inhalant use, after one-year follow-up assessment, compared to 332 youth at high risk in the control group who did not receive the intervention.

"The results are particularly interesting, since they are based on a composite of variables, including use of multiple drugs, frequency of use, quantity of use and the comprehensive effects of these variables on behavior," added study co-author Gilbert J. Botvin, Ph.D., developer of The LifeSkills Training program, and an internationally known expert on drug abuse prevention who is currently a Professor of Public Health and Psychiatry at Weill Medical College of Cornell University and Director of Cornell's Institute for Prevention Research.

LifeSkills Training is widely regarded as the most effective and rigorously tested school-based prevention program. Proven to cut alcohol, tobacco and drug use by up to 87 percent, LifeSkills Training is based on 20 years of research by Dr. Botvin and his associates at the Institute for Prevention Research of Cornell University Medical College. More than a dozen published research studies have documented the effectiveness of the LST approach.

LifeSkills Training is the only substance abuse prevention program recommended by every key federal agency concerned with substance abuse, including the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. The program currently serves over one million students in 25,000 classrooms and 3,000 schools/districts throughout all 50 states, and worldwide in Japan, Korea, Mexico, Sweden, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Argentina.

For a copy of the study, go to, click on publications, then under year 2003. For additional information on the study or LifeSkills Training, call 212-996-1715.
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