Drug And Alcohol Abuse School

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					Drug and alcohol abuse are important problems that affect school-age youth at earlier
ages than in the past. Young people frequently begin to experiment with alcohol,
tobacco, and other drugs during the middle school years, with a smaller number
starting during elementary school. By the time students are in high school, rates of
substance use are remarkably high. According to national survey data, about one in
three twelfth graders reports being drunk or binge drinking (i.e., five or more drinks in
a row) in the past thirty days; furthermore, almost half of high school students report
ever using marijuana and more than one-fourth report using marijuana in the past
thirty days. Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug among high school
students. However, use of the drug ecstasy (MDMA) has seen a sharp increase among
American teenagers at the end of the twentieth century, from 6 percent in 1996 up to
11 percent reporting having tried ecstasy in 2000. Indeed, at the beginning of the
twenty-first century, ecstasy was used by more American teenagers than cocaine.
Many educators recognize that drug and alcohol abuse among students are significant
barriers to the achievement of educational objectives. Furthermore, federal and state
agencies and local school districts frequently mandate that schools provide health
education classes to students, including content on drug and alcohol abuse. The Safe
and Drug-Free Schools Program is a comprehensive federal initiative funded by the
U.S. Department of Education, which is designed to strengthen programs that prevent
the use of alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and violence in and around the nation's schools. In
order to receive federal funding under this program, school districts are expected to
develop a comprehensive education and prevention plan, which involves students,
teachers, parents, and other members of the community. Thus it is clear that schools
have become the major focus of drug and alcohol abuse education and prevention
activities for youth. This makes sense from a practical standpoint because schools
offer efficient access to large numbers of youth during the years that they typically
begin to use drugs and alcohol. Since the 1970s several approaches to drug and
alcohol abuse education and prevention have been implemented in school settings.
Traditionally, drug and alcohol abuse education has involved the dissemination of
information on drug abuse and the negative health, social, and legal consequences of
abuse.      Contemporary       approaches      include     social      resistance    and
competence-enhancement programs, which focus less on didactic instruction and
more on interactive-skills training techniques. The most promising contemporary
approaches are conceptualized within a theoretical framework based on the etiology
of drug abuse and have been subjected to empirical testing using appropriate research
methods. Contemporary programs are typically categorized into one of three types: (1)
universal programs focus on the general population, such as all students in a particular
school; (2) selective programs target high-risk groups, such as poor school achievers;
and (3) indicated programs are designed for youth already experimenting with drugs
or engaging in other high-risk behaviors. Traditional Educational Approach
Information dissemination. The most commonly used approach to drug and alcohol
abuse education involves simply providing students with factual information about
drugs and alcohol. Some information-dissemination approaches attempt to dramatize
the dangers of drug abuse by using fear-arousal techniques designed to attract
attention and frighten individuals into not using drugs, accompanied by vivid
portrayals of the severe adverse consequences of drug abuse. Methods. Informational
approaches may include classroom lectures about the dangers of abuse, as well as
educational pamphlets and other printed materials, and short films that impart
information to students about different types of drugs and the negative consequences
of use. Some programs have police officers come into the classroom and discuss
law-enforcement issues, including drug-related crime and penalties for buying or
possessing illegal drugs. Other programs use doctors or other health professionals to
talk about the severe, often irreversible, health effects of drug use. Effectiveness.
Evaluation studies of informational approaches to drug and alcohol abuse prevention
have shown that in some cases a temporary impact on knowledge and antidrug
attitudes can occur. However, 1997 meta-analytic studies by Nancy Tobler and
Howard Stratton consistently fail to show any impact on drug use behavior or
intentions to use drugs in the future. It has become increasingly clear that the etiology
of drug and alcohol abuse is complex, and prevention strategies that rely primarily on
information dissemination are not effective in changing behavior.
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