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Study Shows 46% Reduction in Teen Marijuana Use With LifeSkills Training Program


New York, NY (June 19, 2002) -- A government-funded study conducted by researchers at Iowa State University showed that a school-based prevention program called LifeSkills Training can reduce new marijuana use by 46% when students receiving the LST program were compared with controls one year after the program was administered. Somewhat stronger effects (a 48% reduction in marijuana use) were found for students who received both the LST program and a family-centered prevention program called Strengthening Families.

The study involved over 1300 students from 36 rural schools in Iowa. Schools were randomly assigned to either receive the LST school program, the LST plus the SF program, or to receive neither program and serve as a control group. Students were surveyed by questionnaire before and after the prevention programs were conducted during the 7th grade, and then again one year later in the 8th grade. Prevention effects were found for students who received the LST program as well as for students who received both the LST program and the SF program using an index of substance use initiation as well as for marijuana use.

The study is the first to show that the LST program works to prevent drug use with rural youth. Previous studies have shown LST to be effective with predominantly African American and Hispanic urban youth and predominantly white, suburban youth.

“These findings are important because they show the effectiveness of a school-based prevention program when used either alone or in combination with a family-based program. This study also extends past prevention research by showing that the LST program works across different cultures and socio-economic levels by teaching kids solid social skills, drug refusal skills, and self-management skills that equip them to deal with the challenges of life as an adolescent and resist pressures to use drugs," explains the developer of the LifeSkills Training program, Gilbert J. Botvin, Ph.D.

Dr. Botvin is 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.

The results of this study were somewhat weaker than with some previous studies, due to low rates of drug use by the rural youth in this study. However, the study suggests that combining an effective school-based program such as LST with an effective family-based prevention program offers the potential for even stronger prevention effects.

Dr. Richard Spoth, a researcher at Iowa State University, was the lead investigator. The study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Mental Health.

LifeSkills Training is widely regarded as the most effective and rigorously tested school-based substance abuse 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 Weill Medical College of Cornell University. 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 is currently in use in 7,500 classrooms and 3,000 schools/districts throughout all 50 states, serving more than 1 million students, and worldwide in Japan, Korea, Mexico, Sweden, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Argentina.

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