ERIC Identifier: ED330675
Publication Date: 1991-00-00
Author: Summerfield, Liane M.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Teacher Education Washington DC.
Drug and Alcohol Prevention Education. ERIC Digest.
The education summit in February 1990 resulted in the establishment
of six national goals for American education (National Goals, 1990). This
ERIC Digest focuses on Goal 6: Safe, Disciplined, and Drug-Free Schools,
which states that:
By the year 2000, every school in America will be free of drugs and
violence and will offer a disciplined environment conducive to learning.
One objective central to achieving Goal 6 is development of comprehensive
K-12 tobacco, alcohol, and other drug prevention programs within the school
health education program. This objective represents a significant acknowledgement
of the importance of health education to the total education of the individual.
TOBACCO, ALCOHOL AND DRUG EDUCATION AS A COMPONENT OF COMPREHENSIVE
SCHOOL HEALTH EDUCATION
Comprehensive school health education is a planned, sequential curriculum
of experiences which promotes development of health knowledge, health-related
skills, and positive attitudes toward health and well-being for students
in all grades. The curriculum presents information about disease control,
personal health, environmental/community health, family life/sex education,
consumer health, nutrition, fitness, safety and first aid, mental health,
and substance use. In addition, a comprehensive school health education
program includes activities that enhance students' communication, decision-making,
and responsible self-management skills.The prevalence of drug use in this
country and the potential dangers of using drugs makes tobacco, alcohol,
and other drug education an important component of comprehensive school
health education. In a recent survey, 19 percent of high school seniors
indicated that they had smoked cigarettes and 9 percent had drunk alcohol
by sixth grade; half of eighth graders had tried cigarettes and 77 percent
reported having used alcohol; and slightly over half of twelfth graders
reported at least one experience with illicit drugs (National Commission,
1990). The dangers of HIV transmission from use of injected drugs are well
documented. Therefore, not only should drug education be a component of
the school health program, but it should also be infused into other content
areas of the curriculum.
COMMUNITY-SCHOOL LINKAGES FOR DRUG AND ALCOHOL EDUCATION
Comprehensive school health education promotes stronger links between
the school and community. To lessen community resistance to sensitive program
areas, such as substance use and sex education, and to increase relevance
of the curriculum, it is particularly important that program philosophy
evolve from the community.In fact, it is doubtful that schools can play
a meaningful role in reducing drug use without parental and community support
and involvement. A school-community team might include teachers, parents,
students, local businesses, drug and alcohol treatment facilities, law
enforcement agencies, and various other community organizations. The team
should identify community forces, both positive and negative, that may
impact on drug use and ensure that program philosophy and approach are
appropriate and synchronous with community activities.
RESEARCH ON THE EFFECTIVENESS OF DRUG PREVENTION PROGRAMS
Effectiveness of any component of the school health program can be measured
in three ways: (1) gain in student knowledge, (2) change in student attitudes,
and (3) adoption of healthier behaviors.Knowledge is relatively easy to
measure and is certainly easier to change than attitudes or behaviors.
Drug, tobacco, and alcohol education programs have been found to increase
student knowledge (Milgram, 1987). However, a gain in knowledge is not
always associated with a corresponding change in attitudes or behaviors.
Most drug education programs have never been evaluated (Goodstadt, 1986).
Of those for which some evaluative information is available, the following
generalizations can be made:
* instruction is most effective when it begins early in life and is
* one-shot programs are less successful than those that are part of
a multigrade, comprehensive health curricula;
* community support, parent involvement, and peer involvement enhance
* the teacher plays a critical role, and teacher training is essential.
IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE
Whereas early drug and alcohol education programs relied heavily on
conveying facts or utilized scare tactics, today's programs combine provision
of factual information about drugs with promotion of positive self-concept
and peer refusal skills. Implementation of a tobacco, alcohol, and drug
education program usually involves three steps:
* Needs Assessment
The program should take into account the problems, culture, and norms
of the community, which can only be determined by needs assessment prior
to implementing a specific curriculum (Fox, Forbing, & Anderson, 1988).
Surveys and interviews are typical information-gathering methods. These
may be supplemented with secondary sources of information, such as school
absenteeism and drop out rates, drug-related hospital admission data, and
arrest rates for drug use and drug-related crimes.
* Curriculum Development
Central to drug education is provision of age-appropriate information
about tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs, symptoms of drug use, factors
associated with dependency, and legal aspects of drug use. In addition,
and common to all areas of health education, the curriculum should offer
activities (such as role playing) for development of peer refusal skills,
self-esteem, assertiveness, and problem-solving skills. Curriculum options
include purchasing a curriculum (see Resources section), developing the
curriculum within each school, or a combination of both.
Tobacco, drug, and alcohol education also offers many opportunities
to infuse content into other curricular areas. Language arts, science,
math, social studies, and driver education are among classes in which various
aspects of substance use might be incorporated.
The notion of "curriculum" may be broadened in a comprehensive drug
and alcohol prevention program to include treatment referral for those
who are substance-dependent and post-treatment aftercare for those returning
to school. Some programs have found success with support groups, peer teachers,
and peer counselors (Fox et al., 1988).
* Program Evaluation
Program evaluation is often cursory and conducted as an afterthought.
However, since program evaluation assures accountability and may justify
expenditures of money and time, a broad approach which examines knowledge,
attitudes, and behaviors is appropriate. Some prepackaged curricula include
INSERVICE TEACHER EDUCATION
Inservice education is essential, not just for teaching teachers strategies
for drug and alcohol education, but to emphasize how comprehensive school
health education fits into the curriculum at every grade level. Considerable
evidence exists that teacher training is as important as selecting the
"right" curriculum for assuring program success. In addition, support staff
should be included in any training program. In their evaluation of two
drug and alcohol education curricula, Tricker and Davis (1988) found that
inservice training needs of experienced and inexperienced teachers differed.
The inexperienced teachers needed a great deal more information about all
aspects of alcohol and drugs. Experienced teachers benefited more from
hands-on time with curriculum materials.
Substance use is a critical component of the comprehensive school health
education program. It is not enough to articulate national goals for tobacco,
drug, and alcohol education. School systems, administrators, parents, and
the community must use these goals to establish policies and strategies
for achieving objectives at the local level.
References identified with an EJ or ED number have been abstracted and
are in the ERIC database. Journal articles (EJ) should be available at
most research libraries; documents (ED) are available in ERIC microfiche
collections at more than 700 locations. Documents can also be ordered through
the ERIC Document Reproduction Service: (800) 443-3742. For more information
contact the ERIC Clearinghouse on Teacher Education, One Dupont Circle,
NW, Suite 610, Washington, DC 20036-2412; (202) 293-2450.
Fox, C. L., Forbing, S. E., and Anderson, P. S. (1988). A comprehensive
approach to drug-free schools and communities. Journal of School Health,
58(9), 365-369. EJ 391 453
Goode, E. (Ed.). (1991). Annual Editions: Drugs, Society and Behavior
91/92. Guilford, CT: Duskin Publishing Company.
Goodstadt, M. S. (1986). School-based drug education in North America:
What is wrong? What can be done? Journal of School Health, 56(7), 278-281.
EJ 341 990
Milgram, G. G. (1987). Alcohol and drug education programs. Journal
of Drug Education, 17, 43-57.
National Commission on Drug-Free Schools. (1990). Toward a drug-free
generation: A nation's responsibility. Washington, DC: U.S. Department
Tricker, R., and Davis, L. G. (1988). Implementing drug education in
schools: An analysis of costs and teacher perceptions. Journal of School
Health, 58(5), 181-185. EJ 378 228
U.S. Department of Education. (1990). National Goals for Education.
Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.
A Guide to School-Based Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Curricula.
Health Promotion Research Center, Stanford Center for Research in Disease
Prevention, 1000 Welch Road, Palo Alto, CA 94304-1885; (415) 723-1000.
Austin Independent School District. (1989). Taking Steps towards Drug-Free
Schools in AISD. ED 313 494.
Dade County Public Schools. (1989). A Community Education Approach to
Substance Abuse. ED 311 341.
Drug Prevention Curricula: A Guide to Selection and Implementation.
National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information, P.O.Box 2345,
Rockville, MD 20852; (301) 468-2600.
National School Safety Center. (1988). Drug Traffic and Abuse in Schools:
NSSC Resource Paper. ED 307 530.
U.S. Department of Education. (1990). Learning to Live Drug Free: A
Curriculum Model for Prevention. National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and
Drug Information, P.O.Box 2345, Rockville, MD 20852; (301) 468-2600.