School-based drug abuse prevention programs do more than just effectively decrease drug use and misuse among children and adolescents, according to a study by Gilbert J. Botvin, PhD and associates, they may also reduce adolescent delinquency, verbal and physical aggression, and fighting. The results of the study were recently published in Prevention Science.
The LifeSkills Training (LST) program is used to teach youths cognitive-behavioral skills for problem solving and decision making, resisting media influences, managing stress and anxiety, communicating effectively, developing healthy personal relationships, and asserting their rights.
Researchers introduced the program to 2374 sixth-grade students in New York City public and parochial schools. Most of the students were economically disadvantaged and nonwhite (39% black, 33% Hispanic, 10% white; 55% economically disadvantaged; 30% living in single-mother households).
After 15 sessions, delinquency and frequent fighting were significantly reduced throughout the intervention group. In addition, stronger positive effects were found in students who received at least half the intervention.
The investigators noted that their study supports the notion that substance use and violence may occur together and have similar causes, which makes LST an effective program, since it targets an array of related behaviors. They indicated that more research is needed to test the durability of the LST program.