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Journal of Primary Prevention

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 171–194 | Cite as

Characteristics of Effective Substance Abuse Prevention Programs for High-Risk Youth

  • J. Fred Springer
  • Elizabeth Sale
  • Jack Hermann
  • Soledad Sambrano
  • Rafa Kasim
  • Mary Nistler
Article

Abstract

The last two decades have witnessed a rapid development of substance abuse prevention programs. Most efforts to evaluate these programs have been limited to single program studies, and nearly all studies involving multiple drug prevention programs have involved school-based programs for general youth populations. In 1995, the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP), with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), funded the CSAP National Cross-site Evaluation of High Risk Youth Programs, a five-year, multi-site evaluation study involving 46 programs and over 10,500 youth at high risk for substance use (CSAP, 2002(a)). This article reports findings from this evaluation, focusing on program characteristics that help explain reductions in 30-day substance use among program participants. Programs found to be most effective in reducing substance use were those that offered strong behavioral life skills development content, emphasized team-building and interpersonal delivery methods, emphasized introspective learning approaches focusing on self-reflection, were based upon a clearly articulated and coherent program theory, and provided intense contact with youth. Programs utilizing these positive program components produced consistent and lasting reductions in substance use. These findings provide a solid basis for the adoption of positive program characteristics in the development of future prevention programming for high-risk youth.

at-risk youth substance abuse prevention effective program characteristics multi-site evaluation 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Fred Springer
    • 1
  • Elizabeth Sale
    • 1
  • Jack Hermann
    • 2
  • Soledad Sambrano
    • 3
  • Rafa Kasim
    • 1
  • Mary Nistler
    • 1
  1. 1.EMT Associates, Inc.FolsomCalifornia
  2. 2.ORC/Macro, Inc.CalvertMaryland
  3. 3.Center for Substance Abuse PreventionSubstance Abuse and Mental Health Services AdministrationRockvilleMaryland

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