Life Skills Training: Empirical Findings and Future Directions
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- Botvin, G.J. & Griffin, K.W. The Journal of Primary Prevention (2004) 25: 211. doi:10.1023/B:JOPP.0000042391.58573.5b
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Alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use are important problems that typically begin during adolescence. Fortunately, substantial progress has been made in developing effective drug abuse prevention programs for youth over the past two decades. The Life Skills Training (LST) program is an effective primary prevention program for adolescent drug abuse that addresses the risk and protective factors associated with drug use initiation and teaches skills related to social resistance and enhancing social and personal competence. This paper provides an overview of the theoretical underpinnings of the LST program, along with a description of the program's core components, materials, and methods. Findings from over two decades of evaluation research are reviewed, including results from a series of small scale efficacy studies and large scale effectiveness trials with a variety of adolescent populations. These studies have demonstrated positive behavioral effects of LST on smoking, alcohol, marijuana use as well as the use of multiple substances and illicit drugs, with prevention effects lasting up until the end of high school. Further research is needed to understand the mediating mechanisms through which prevention programs such as LST are effective, and ways to widely disseminate research-based programs into schools.