Over the past decade, researchers and communities have begun to invest more money and effort in research-proven, evidence-based drug abuse intervention programs, and those programs are making an impact in communities, according to Iowa State University psychologist Richard Spoth, PhD.
Spoth, the director of Iowa's Partnerships in Prevention Science Institute, discussed the institute's five-year research program called PROSPER (Promoting School-Community-University Partnerships to Enhance Resilience) at a June congressional briefing sponsored by the Friends of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and organized by APA's science policy staff.
The NIDA-funded project builds partnerships among public school staff, state extension services, university researchers and others to offer evidence-based drug abuse prevention to Iowa and Pennsylvania youth and their families. The project offers in-school curricula for students as well as after-school and weekend programs for students and their parents. The project has been successful, Spoth says. Oneevaluation, for example, found that seventh-graders who took part in it were significantly less likely to use both marijuana and inhalants than a control group of seventh-graders.
Spoth hopes to replicate the partnership model in other states, so he and his colleagues have begun more detailed evaluations to discover what aspects work best. "We want to scale this up," he says. "So now we need to know what factors predict its sustainability."
Spoth was joined at the briefing by NIDA Director Nora Volkow, MD, who gave an overview of NIDA's drug abuse prevention efforts, and by Diane Eckert of the Fairfax County Safe and Drug-Free Schools program, who discussed drug-prevention efforts in that Virginia county.