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Preventing Substance Abuse Among At-Risk Inner-City Youth

NCJ Number
Date Published
177 pages
This report presents the methodology and findings of intensive case studies of seven drug prevention programs that have focused on at-risk, inner-city youth.

The seven programs were selected from a larger set of promising programs to represent diverse approaches and program settings. The programs included one school-based counseling program, one operated by a public housing authority, one organized around outdoor experiential activities, one organized to work with families as a unit, two designed to work with youth from specific ethnic groups, and one that involved an 80- organization coalition to serve the youth of one impoverished neighborhood. An analysis of the data from the seven programs focused on identifying characteristics the program have in common. The program rationale is used as an organizing theme, and the results are presented in segments ordered in terms of inputs, activities, and outcomes. Findings show that each of the programs uses a multifaceted approach. In the experience of the program developers, no single program component is sufficient. Further, the kinds of strategies used are related to the behavioral patterns of "good" families and "good" communities. They provide love, safety, and nurturing; impart values and self-esteem; and teach social and communication skills. Further, they structure and supervise activities; attempt to influence the selection of peers for friendship groups; establish discipline through a system of rewards and contingencies; and arrange for the necessities of food, shelter, and health care. The programs do not engage in harsh punishment or surveillance. The programs do not aim to replace the families of participants; rather they focus on strengthening these families by improving parenting skills, providing other counseling and training to improve family functioning, and refer adults or siblings for substance abuse counseling or treatment, as well as providing support and sympathy during difficult times. The study found that few prevention programs have participated in an evaluation of any kind and that rigorous outcome evaluations are rare. This report includes suggestions for preparing and conducting evaluations. Appended discussion of points of contact for the programs studied and the relationship of the activities of individual programs to the seven program components and a 33-item bibliography

Date Published: January 1, 1993