Substance Abuse Programs
Substance abuse prevention is one of the most important social issues nowadays. Successful preventive measures are the most essential part of elimination of alcohol, tobacco and drug usage. In this regard, many social programs are designed. This paper describes in detail three different programs dealing with the issue of substance abuse prevention.
LifeSkills Training (LST) program was designed by Dr. Gillbert J. Botvin, one of the most famous experts in the field of drug abuse prevention. It is a substance abuse prevention program based on numerous researches and is directed towards the reduction of alcohol, tobacco and drug abuse and indication of violent behavior. The main principle of this program is a maximally comprehensive explanation of all the aspects of substance use and potentially dangerous and risky behaviors based on the appropriate social and psychological factors. This program was designed on the basis of more than 20 scientific studies and is supported by a wide range of governmental agencies. LifeSkills Training program not only includes informing about the dangerous consequences of substance abuse, but also describes the healthy alternatives to risky behaviors by means of special activities, which:
- Educate students how to effectively resist social pressure to use drugs, drink alcohol or smoke tobacco;
- Help students increase self-esteem and the level of self-confidence;
- Educate students on how to cope with anxiety effectively without substance use;
- Improve students’ awareness of the consequences of substance abuse;
- Increase students’ ability on mental and behavioral levels to reduce and prevent a certain range of risky behaviors.
The program consists of three parts which are based on the main domains promoting the tendency to substance abusing. According to the research, students who develop certain skills in these domains are more likely to avoid engagement into a range of risky behaviors. These 3 domains are the following:
- Drug resistance skills enable students to develop resistance to peers’ and media influence due to which individuals may become substance users;
- Personal management skills help students examine their self-image, set goals and make independent decisions and choices, analyze their consequences, resist and reduce stress and anxiety, and become able to meet personal challenges appropriately;
- General social skills. Students learn to overcome shyness or other communicational barriers due to which they are unable to say no and protect their opinion. Students also become aware of how to face some tough situations without aggression and indication of risky behaviors (“Program overview”, n.d.).
Therefore, this program teaches students to apply certain social and psychological skills to become more resistant to social and media influence inducing them to become drug abusers.
Strengthening Families Program (SFP) is an evidence-based program of national and international scales which is aimed to strengthen regular and high-risk families, and as a result reduce risky behaviors, delinquency, and substance abuse in children. It is a 14-session program in which children with their parents participate both separately and together. Besides the interactive sessions, this program also provides special manuals and handbooks for children and parents. The components of this program include a range of practices which include learning positive interactions between children and parents, communicational lessons, and explanations how to achieve effectively organized discipline within the families.
During the sessions for parents, they are taught how to positively interact with children by means of special attention to and approval of positive children’s patterns of behavior. Additionally, parents are taught to actively listen to children, reduce criticism, encourage discipline and improve order and organization within the families.
Children are trained to develop communicational skills which are very helpful for communicating with parents, teachers and peers, defining their personal goals and dreams, and increasing the ability of solving problems, resisting social pressure and negative influence, managing anger and anxiety without substance using, and strengthening self-identification.
During the family practice sessions, children and parents are engaged together in a game-like practice on what they learned during their separate sessions. During these common sessions, children play a primary role in choosing activities and communicating with parents. This allows establishing confidence and discipline in regard to relationships between parents and children.
The main results of this program are the improvement of links between children and parents, reduction of predisposition to risky behaviors in children, especially those having behavioral, emotional, social and academic problems, improvement of parenting skills in parents, and social and living skills in children (“Program descriptions”, n.d.).
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Reconnecting Youth (RY) program is a school-based preventive program for students of high schools with poor academic performance and predisposition to dropping out. This program is also recognized by a wide range of governmental agencies and institutions. Its components are included into many other programs on prevention of drug abuse. The main goals of RY program are the following:
- Increase of academic performance;
- Decrease of drug involvement;
- Decrease of emotional distress.
RY is a long-term program. It consists of 75 sessions during which teachers and trainers thoroughly work with participants. The basic components of this program are: getting started, enhancing self-esteem, improving decision making skills, establishing and improving personal control, and developing skills of interpersonal communication. One of the main ideas of RY program is that a student should be actively involved into healthy social activities. It will promote strengthening their bonds with their schools, and as the result reduce the risk of deviant behaviors and substance abuse. According to the evidence research, the RY program has very sufficient results. In regard to substance abuse, the rates of hard drug abuse among the students tend to decrease by 50% after participating in the RY program (“RY program”, n.d.).
Therefore, this program prevents drug abuse by means of increasing involvement of students into social life and strengthening bonds between schools and students.