Classroom-based Prevention ProgramsA fresh study reveals the lasting effectiveness of substance abuse classroom-stationed prevention programs targeting teenage drug use. The study tracked and analyzed seventh graders who took part in the Botvin LifeSkills Training school program, known as LST.

The results of the study found that the kids that participated in the program had a long-term reduction in drug usage 12 years later. Schools can play an important and powerful role in preventing substance and drug abuse. Student participation in school activities and attachment to schools help protect young children and teens, and can help reduce alcohol, tobacco, and drug use while in school and later in life.

The developer of the LST program, Dr. Gilbert J. Botvin, an internationally renowned expert on drug abuse prevention, is encouraged by the findings. “This study provides still more evidence that drug use can be prevented using a classroom program taught during the early teen years. More importantly, it also shows that these effects are long-lasting.”

The study evaluated the LST classroom program’s effect on young adults aged in their early-to-mid-20s, who participated in the program while they were in seventh grade. The results revealed that 23 percent of those participants who received the LST classroom-based prevention program were less likely to have ever used illegal drugs than those that didn’t participate in the program.

In addition, LST participants were 22 percent less prone to have used marijuana and over 25 percent less likely to have taken drugs, such as tranquilizers, barbiturates, and amphetamines for non-medicinal purposes.

Over 2,000 participants were involved in the study, who had an average age of 24 at the time of the 12 year follow up.

At a time when reduced funding is causing policy makers and educators to meticulously decide how best to allocate scarce resources, evidence and support that clearly shows that prevention programs can yield long-term decreases in drug use is especially important.

LifeSkills Training (LST) is a school-based violence and substance abuse program, which is well-researched as being effective. It’s focused on children beginning in the third grade and continues through to junior high school and middle high school. Not only does the classroom-based program help kids learn the consequences of drug abuse, but it also helps them build confidence and self-esteem. Other benefits include overcoming social anxiety, avoiding risky behavior, and providing tools to help kids resist temptations and peer pressure.

The study’s findings were presented at the international conference in San Antonio, Texas at the Blueprints for Violence Prevention conference held in April. The Blueprints for Violence Prevention conference was held as a significant initiative to recognize and promote the validity and effectiveness of substance abuse prevention programs.

Established in 1996, Blueprints for Violence Protection — based at the University of Colorado — has as its mission to monitor the successfulness of early intervention, treatment, and prevention programs aimed at a reduction in not only adolescent aggressive, violent crime, and delinquency, but also substance abuse. It’s specific mission is to identify exemplary violence in drug prevention programs that are demonstrated to meet a highly scientific standard of effectiveness.