Community Anti-Drug Program Didn’t Work: Study (Yahoo News, USA)

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Community Anti-Drug Program Didn’t Work: Study (Yahoo News, USA)

From: Miles Townes

Date: 10/24/2002

Time: 12:07:08 PM

Remote Name: 138.88.149.136

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(From: http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&u=/nm/20021021/hl_nm/drugs_abuse_dc)

Community Anti-Drug Program Didn’t Work: Study

Mon Oct 21,10:27 AM ET

By Suzanne Rostler

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – A program designed to build a community anti-drug coalition did nothing to lower rates of substance abuse among adolescents or adults, according to a new report.

Researchers at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation evaluated the organization’s national program, Fighting Back. The program gave roughly $3 million over 5 years to community anti-drug coalitions under the assumption that bringing a community together is an effective way to reduce the demand for drugs.

As part of the program, local leaders met to assess their community’s substance abuse problem and develop a coordinated response, including raising public awareness through media outlets and newsletters, for instance. Youth prevention activities included classes aimed at teaching kids the dangers of drugs and alcohol, and how to resist peer pressure.

Communities also initiated early identification and intervention methods, treatment and relapse prevention programs, and ways to improve the environment, for example, through community policing and neighborhood clean-ups. Broad goals were developed in each community to reduce demand for drugs and alcohol among all groups of people.

Despite the efforts, levels of drug and alcohol use were no different in the 12 Fighting Back communities analyzed, compared with levels in 29 communities that did not initiate programs, according to the study. In fact, community groups that targeted adults as part of their program actually reported higher levels of substance use, researchers report in the October issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Although it is unclear why the program was not effective, the findings can help communities to develop more effective programs, Dr. Denise Hallfors, the study’s lead author, told Reuters Health.

“Many dedicated volunteers and staff members were involved over the years. Because of their efforts, we have learned much and have a better idea now about how to guide community members who care about these problems and want to see changes in their community,” said Hallfors, a researcher at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Specifically, communities should keep their goals focused and manageable, she said. Environmental programs and policy changes at the city or state level may also help. Finally, communities need to evaluate their programs periodically and not assume they are improving the status quo.

“I think the findings are disappointing to all of us who work in the field and who are trying to help families and communities that struggle with substance abuse,” she said.

SOURCE: American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2002;23:237-245.


Last changed: October 24, 2002

Community Anti-Drug Program Didn’t Work: Study (Yahoo News, USA)
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