Results of prevention programs with adolescents

Drug Alcohol Depend. 1987 Sep;20(1):13-9. doi: 10.1016/0376-8716(87)90071-8.


Programs for preventing smoking and alcohol and drug abuse have radically changed in the past decade. Instead of being regarded as a health or discipline problem that involves only a few deviant adolescents, drug use has begun to be viewed as social behavior that is functional for adolescents, not capricious, and is normative for that population. The most successful prevention programs have sought to delay the onset of tobacco use. Based on theoretical and etiological research, these programs target factors that have repeatedly been predictive of adolescent smoking, alcohol and drug use. The programs teach adolescents (1) why people their age smoke tobacco or use alcohol and drugs; (2) how these meanings get established by peers, older role models and advertising; (3) how to resist these influences to smoke or to use alcohol and drugs; and (4) life skills and competencies to counterbalance the functions that drug use serves. Because of the association with the onset of smoking and the onset of using other drugs, these strategies are being studied for alcohol use and other drugs. In addition, elected peer leaders are trained to conduct these activities with their classmates and act as new role models for non-use. Evaluations of these approaches are optimistic. Studies in northern California and Minnesota reveal 50-70% reductions in the onset of smoking. Botvin's 'Life Skills Training' program demonstrates success in delaying heavy alcohol and marijuana use.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Adolescent*
  • Alcoholism / prevention & control*
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Humans
  • Peer Group
  • Primary Prevention / methods*
  • Psychology, Adolescent
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Smoking Prevention*
  • Social Problems
  • Substance-Related Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology