Eleven Components of Effective Drug Abuse Prevention Curricula


  • This review was supported by a grant from Drug Strategies, a nonprofit policy organization in Washington, D.C.


ABSTRACT: A review of school-based drug abuse prevention programs was conducted for 1989–1994. In addition to a comprehensive literature review, interviews were conducted with a panel of 15 leading experts in prevention research. Key elements of promising prevention curricula were identified. Effective prevention programs were found to be based on a sound theoretical or research foundation. They included developmentally appropriate information about drugs, social resistance skills training, and normative education. Broader based personal and social skills training appeared to enhance program effects. Effective programs used interactive teaching techniques and teacher training, and provided adequate coverage and sufficient follow-up. Cultural sensitivity to the target population was found to be critical to program success. Additional program components were expected to enhance curriculum effectiveness. Finally, experts agreed that adequate evaluation of prevention curricula was critical. Unfortunately, despite information about the types of curricula that are effective, the most promising prevention curricula are not widely disseminated. Reasons for under-utilization are explored, and recommendations made for correcting the situation.