Substance Abuse Counseling Services in Secondary Schools: A National Study of Schools and Students, 1999-2003

Authors


  • 1

    Yvonne M. Terry-McElrath, MSA, Research Area Specialist, (yterry@isr.umich.edu); 2Lloyd D. Johnston, PhD, Research Professor and Distinguished Research Scientist, (lloydj@umich.edu); and 3Patrick M. O’Malley, PhD, Research Professor, (pomalley@isr.umich.edu), Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, PO Box 1248, Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1248; and 4Ryoko Yamaguchi, PhD, Research Social Scientist, (ryoko.yamaguchi@sri.com), SRI International, 1100 Wilson Blvd, Suite 2800, Arlington, VA 22209-2268. This study was supported by grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (032769) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (DA01411). The views expressed in this study are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsors.

Abstract

Abstract: This study focuses on (a) American 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students’ access to, and use of, substance abuse counseling services via schools and (b) associations between such access and student substance use prevalence. From 1999 through 2003, student data were obtained from the Monitoring the Future study; and school data were obtained through the Youth, Education, and Society study, resulting in nationally representative data from 113,008 students in 855 public and private schools. Results indicate that in contrast to relatively stable student heavy–drug use prevalence rates, internal counseling availability and participation decreased significantly over time, as did reported student referral to external counseling. Availability of internal counseling, as well as student participation in both internal and external referrals, differed significantly by school characteristics—school level, grade size, sector, population density, school socioeconomic status, majority student body race/ethnicity, and geographical region. Student use of counseling services did not show any relationships with school-level heavy drinking rates; however, student participation in external counseling referrals was positively associated with school-level prevalence rates for the use of illicit drugs other than marijuana and showed indications of a similar relationship with marijuana prevalence rates. The decreasing access to, and use of, counseling, the lower probability of counseling availability in middle schools, and the lack of association between heavy–alcohol use rates and counseling services, all suggest missed opportunities and a greater need for counseling services to reduce high-risk drug use. (J Sch Health. 2005;75(9):334–341)

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