The best time to introduce strategies for drug and alcohol prevention is during the teenage and high school years. During adolescence, most teens begin to look for acceptance and peer pressure plays an important role in their life as they explore ways for validation and to help them through the difficult periods of their life. Teens that turn to drugs and alcohol in this period are likely to take more risks in their adult years, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Teens can benefit from being introduced to strategies to prevent drug and alcohol abuse.
Elements of Teen Substance Abuse
Teens that experience difficult transitions including the divorce of parents, moving to a different state, country or even changing schools often times find that even the smallest of change can be quite traumatic. As a result of the trauma, the teen may turn to substance abuse to cope with the difficulty. As teens mature, they face certain physical, social and psychological changes. Teens that resort to drug and alcohol abuse put their developmental futures at risk.
The Drug Abuse Resistance Education or DARE program was created as a strategy to prevent drug abuse for students. DARE was designed by police officers and has been taught in schools across the United States since 1983. A component of the program is that participating students pledge not to use drugs or become involved in gangs. DARE has been met with mixed reviews, but advocates of the program claim that DARE has made a positive impact on youth; while others have argues that teens who knew nothing about drugs have since experimented with drugs.
Science Plays a Role in Prevention
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that students who are involved in science supported substance abuse prevention programs are less likely to resort to drug and alcohol abuse. Programs such as Universal Science programs address protection and risk at school, but also in the community. Certain selective science programs that center on adolescents who are at a greater risk for drug and alcohol abuse indicate that these types of programs are effective in substance abuse prevention.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
In some cases, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) programs are effective in providing strategies for drug and alcohol prevention. CBT works to build self-esteem and self-confidence, while at the same time teaching skills that will help the individual cope with problems such as peer pressure; dealing with and addressing difficulties at home; selecting friends; how free time is spent; as well as work and academic goals. CBT offers insight to cope, rather than turning to drugs and alcohol for solutions.
Family Support is the Best Prevention
Of course the best strategy for drug and alcohol prevention is family support. Families who are engaged and attentive to the needs of each other offer the best chance at preventing substance abuse, but also give the support needed to overcoming abuse or addiction.