Published on February 19, 2014 at 7:39 AM
Life Skills was among four prevention programs the researchers studied. The team looked at 28 rural public school districts in Iowa and Pennsylvania, tracking students from grades 6 through 12. They examined a home-based program called Strengthening Families 10-14 and three school-based programs: Life Skills Training, Project Alert and All Stars. All four were "universal" programs that were offered to all teenagers in a given district.
The researchers analyzed pairs of demographically similar school districts. Within each pair, one community received a prevention program or programs, and the other did not. The research team surveyed teenagers each year, asking teens to anonymously report whether they had ever used a prescription painkiller for nonmedical purposes. The authors then compared drug use levels in districts that received interventions versus those that did not.
In communities that received no intervention, a quarter of high school seniors reported having misused prescription painkillers. The most substantial reductions in abuse rates occurred when the Life Skills program was combined with the Strengthening Families program. The All Stars intervention also yielded reductions when it was used alongside the Strengthening Families program.
Crowley said he hopes policymakers and educators will put the findings to use.
"Policymakers and other leaders are actively searching for efficient ways to curb prescription drug abuse," Crowley said. "These results give policymakers options regarding how to handle this growing epidemic. "
Source: Duke University