Adolescent Drug Use Prevention:

Common Features of Promising Community Programs

PEMD-92-2: Published: Jan 16, 1992. Publicly Released: Feb 24, 1992.

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Robert L. York
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the design, implementation, and results of promising, comprehensive, community-based drug use prevention programs for young adolescents.

GAO found that: (1) successful drug abuse prevention programs took a positive approach toward youth and stressed skills learning, motivational techniques, and coping tactics necessary for dealing with the multiple problems in participants' lives; (2) successful programs offered services stressing five different focus areas in which participants often experienced problems, including family, peers, school, community, and the individual; (3) the most promising programs shared a comprehensive strategy, an indirect approach toward drug abuse prevention, the goal of empowering youth, a participatory approach, a culturally sensitive orientation, and highly structured activities; and (4) the programs often had difficulty maintaining continuity with their participants, coordinating and integrating their service components, providing accessible services, obtaining funds, attracting necessary leadership and staff, and conducting program evaluations.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Several pertinent evaluations have been started in executive branch agencies since GAO made this recommendation to Congress.

    Matter: If Congress wishes to learn more about what works in this type of drug abuse prevention program, it should consider providing additional evaluation funds for national, independent, long-term evaluations of the most promising comprehensive, community-based drug abuse prevention programs.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The handbook was issued in summer 1993.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Education should complete and disseminate widely the drug prevention program evaluation handbook now being developed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Education

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Health and Human Services has issued the implementation and evaluation manuals. The Department has not set a firm issue date for the logic-model manual; it was still in preparation in late 1994, but staffing changes have delayed publication until at least fiscal year 1995.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Health and Human Services should complete and disseminate widely the implementation, evaluation-measures, and logic-model manuals now being developed by the Office for Substance Abuse Prevention.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services


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