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Investing in Evidence-Based Prevention Programs for Youth

Problem:

Adolescence is the period of life with the highest rate of initiating substance use, including use that will culminate in addiction. Many widely used prevention programs targeted at adolescents have no evidence of reducing substance use. By their senior year of high school, 47.4% of American youth have used an illicit drug, 58.5% have consumed alcohol, and 22.3% have smoked cigarettes.

 

Solutions:

  • Schools and prevention funders can adopt effective programs, such as those recommended by The U.S. Surgeon General.

  • Prevention programs can expand their impact by targeting developmental factors (e.g., skills identifying and managing emotions) that protect not only against substance use but also problems such as depression, anxiety, social isolation and poor academic performance.

 

Conclusion:

Investing in prevention programs that have a strong evidence base can reduce adolescent substance use as well as produce broader benefits for youth and their families. 

 

Key Policy Evidence: