Objectives: Although several studies have reported short-term gains for drug-use prevention programs targeted at young adolescents, few have assessed the long-term effects of such programs. Such information is essential for judging how long prevention benefits last. This paper reports results over a 6-year period for a multisite randomized trial that achieved reductions in drug use during the junior high school years.
Methods: The 11-lesson curriculum, which was tested in 30 schools in eight highly diverse West Coast communities, focused on helping 7th and 8th grade students develop the motivation and skills to resist drugs. Schools were randomly assigned to treatment and control conditions. About 4000 students were assessed in grade 7 and six times thereafter through grade 12. Program effects were adjusted for pretest covariates and school effects.
Results: Once the lessons stopped, the program's effects on drug use stopped. Effects on cognitive risk factors persisted for a longer time (many through grade 10), but were not sufficient to produce corresponding reductions in use.
Conclusions: It is unlikely that early prevention gains can be maintained without additional prevention efforts during high school. Future research is needed to develop and test such efforts.