Adolescent Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention: Why Programs Work

Adolescent Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention: Why Programs Work

Catch Them When They’re Young

Why feel the heartache when you suspect that your child is using drugs or alcohol? Why put yourself through even more of an emotional rollercoaster when you confirm your suspicions? To prevent children from using drugs or alcohol and possibly becoming addicted, drug and alcohol abuse prevention programs may be helpful.

History of Prevention Programs

Drug and alcohol prevention programs for adolescents began in the 1980s. The programs were supposed to help people understand when children use drugs and what makes them do it. The programs catered to appropriately aged children. They weren’t too young or too old—they were aimed at the age that most children started to drink or try drugs. It was the perfect time to expose them to drug and alcohol abuse education.


Iowa State and Penn State universities developed the PROSPER program—Promoting School-Community-University Partnerships to Enhance Resilience-to deliver the drug and alcohol abuse prevention programs. PROSPER programs include both family-focused and school-based programs. In the family-focused programs, the instructors teach how to create and maintain healthy family relationships. In the school-based programs, the children learn how to be more assertive and handle problems with friends. This builds confidence, making the adolescents feel better about saying no to drugs or alcohol. The programs also teach parents how to communicate with their children. Another objective is to encourage parents to be more involved in their children’s lives. The instructors emphasize that parents should know who their children are with, where they are and what they’re doing.

Studying the Prevention Programs

Researchers looked at 28 communities in Iowa and Pennsylvania delivering the PROSPER programs. The youngest children who took part were in the sixth grade. Their parents also participated. The children learned how to stay away from drugs and alcohol, but they and their parents learned how to build better relationships with each other. In the six years following program completion, researchers studied the adolescents and their families. They found that there was a decline in meth, marijuana, tobacco and alcohol use. Also, the researchers determined that children who attend the programs in middle school are 65 percent less likely to abuse prescription drugs. There were more findings. The teens had gained life skills and were getting along better with their parents. Also, their behavior improved. These changes indirectly lower the risk of drug or alcohol use. Researchers believe that efforts of the prevention programs may do more than intended. If the programs cut down on drug and alcohol abuse, they will probably do the same for children misbehaving and having problems in school. Going through a prevention program doesn’t guarantee that adolescents will turn down drugs or alcohol. There are other factors that influence a child’s decision to use. But if these programs can do their part, addiction rates may decline. If you know someone who is addicted or is abusing drugs and/or alcohol, call Lakeview’s admissions coordinators to learn about the types of substance abuse programs available.  We are available to you 24/7. Call us at 866.704.7692 .