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HOT TOPIC 2017 HTM file
It’s magic: prevent substance use problems without mentioning drugs
‘Hot topics’ offer background and analysis on important issues which sometimes generate heated debate. Analyses the evidence leading to the realisation that focusing on drugs is not necessarily the best way to prevent problem drug use; youth programmes addressing underlying vulnerabilities and structural influences have growing research support.
HOT TOPIC 2016 HTM file
Should we start prevention in the cradle?
One of our selection of hot topics – important issues which sometimes generate heated debate. Focusing on the early years to avert substance use problems makes sense, but does it work?
Intriguing findings from Glasgow on what it is about a school which helps protect pupils from less socially accepted substance use: in this case, engaging schools with good teacher-pupil relationships but, unlike in England, not those which (given their pupils and areas) excel academically and in eliminating truancy. Connection is it seems the key.
The reviewers here helpfully amalgamate the findings of their three authoritative reviews of alcohol prevention programmes in the school, among families and parents, and combining these and/or other components. Some programmes they say work, but why and in what contexts remains unclear.
STUDY 2010 HTM file
Cracking down on youth tobacco may influence drug use
In Illinois in the USA, randomly allocating towns to enforce laws against youth smoking in public led not just to fewer youth smoking but also fewer drinking or using and being offered illegal drugs - did anti-tobacco policing spill-over to create an environment unfriendly to drinking and illegal drug use?
STUDY 2010 HTM file
A brief image-based prevention intervention for adolescents
Across the sample, a brief face-to-face consultation highlighting how substance use might stop them becoming the sort of young adults they wanted to be generally did not prevent substance use among US high school pupils, but those already using substances were significantly more responsive, suggesting a selective if not a universal prevention role.
REVIEW 2011 HTM file
The Good Behavior Game and the future of prevention and treatment
From the researchers involved in the trials, a practitioner-friendly account of research on the classroom management technique implemented in the first years of schooling which has led to remarkably strong and persistent impacts on substance use and other problems in later life.
In their first years at school, Baltimore pupils formed teams which could earn prizes and praise for good behaviour; 14 years later many fewer young lives were marred by substance-related problems, threatened by smoking, or on track to cause serious social problems.
Intriguing suggestion from a Norwegian study that taking measures to effectively reduce bullying in schools (including improving the social climate and setting clear and consistently enforced boundaries) also curbs the development of forms of substance use most associated with disturbed child development.
In Hawaii and then the less promising schools of Chicago, a primary school programme aiming to improving school climate and pupil character development had substantial and, in Chicago, lasting preventive impacts – another illustration that focusing on drugs is not always the best way to prevent drug problems.
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