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Journal Article


Skager R. Drug Alcohol Rev. 2007; 26(6): 577-584.


(Copyright © 2007, John Wiley and Sons)






Issues. Despite more than a decade of federal sponsorship of ‘evidence-based’ alcohol/drug education, there has been no consistent downward trend in overall prevalence among youth over the past 15 years. Reasons underlying this situation are examined. Approach. Published technical critiques of initial research supporting widely used evidence-based programs are reviewed along with replication studies conducted later by independent researchers not associated with initial program development. Social and institutional barriers in the US against changes in AOD policy and practice for young people are also suggested. Key Findings. Emerging use of diverted pharmaceuticals (now second to cannabis in prevalence) may underlie moderate recent decline in use of alcohol. Early federal certification standards for ‘evidence based’ prevention education have been seriously compromised. Technical critiques of initial evaluations and negative replication studies of these programs are consistent with lack of impact. Finally, fidelity of implementation in regular school settings is commonly flawed. Implications. Failure of these mainly pre-secondary educational programs may underlie recent federal support for forced random AOD testing of secondary school students. A new approach to drug education for adolescent students seems warranted as a positive alternative to personally intrusive surveillance. Conclusion. An interactive approach at the secondary school level that incorporates an age-appropriate educational process is proposed. While advising abstinence, this approach also facilitates identifying and assisting problematic AOD users.


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