Promoting reduced and discontinued substance use among adolescent substance users: effectiveness of a universal prevention program

Prev Sci. 2007 Mar;8(1):35-49. doi: 10.1007/s11121-006-0052-3. Epub 2006 Nov 10.


Efforts to address youth substance use have focused on prevention among non-users and treatment among severe users with less attention given to youth occupying the middle ground who have used substances but not yet progressed to serious abuse or addiction. Using a sample from 35 middle schools of 1,364 youth who reported using substances, this study examined the effectiveness of a universal youth substance use prevention program, the SAMHSA Model Program keepin' it REAL, in promoting reduced or recently discontinued alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana use. Discrete-time event history methods modeled the rates of reduced and recently discontinued use across four waves of data. Each substance (alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana) was modeled separately. Beginning at the second wave, participants who reported use at wave 1 were considered at risk of reducing or discontinuing use. Since the data sampled students in schools, multi-level models accounted for the nesting of data at the school level. Results indicated that prevention program participation influenced the rates of reduced and recently discontinued use only for alcohol, controlling for baseline use severity, age, grades, socioeconomic status, ethnicity and gender. Among youth who reported use of alcohol in wave 1 (N=1,028), the rate of reducing use for program participants was 72% higher than the rate for control students. The rate of discontinuing use was 66% higher than the rate for control students. Among youth who reported use of one or more of the three substances in wave 1 (N=1,364), the rate of discontinuing all use was 61% higher for program participants than for control students. Limitations and implications of these findings and plans for further research are discussed.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Arizona
  • Female
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Program Evaluation*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / prevention & control*