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The problem of substance abuse, especially among teenagers, is a rapidly growing concern in the United States. According to the December 2016 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the use of illicit drugs other than marijuana in 2015 was reported to be 5.4 percent among the eighth graders, 9.8 percent among 10th graders, and 14.3 percent among the 12th graders.

Adolescent drug abuse is associated with common problems such as absenteeism from school and other activities, declining grades and a higher risk for discontinuing education. However, lifelong issues, like chronic health problems, substance dependence, and financial and social consequences, can also be an outcome of regular alcohol abuse.

Although the authorities have been taking a tough stand to curb the issue of substance abuse among the teenagers, nothing substantial has been achieved so far. However, implementing drug prevention programs at the school level can go a long way in dealing with the rising drug and alcohol addiction problem among teens.

Interestingly, executing such prevention programs can effectively reduce the problem of substance use in not only the person addicted to illegal substances but also his near or dear ones.

Preventing drug abuse to avoid the onset of substance use

Prevention programs for substance abuse generally aim at enabling a person to restore his or her normal functioning through sustained recovery and to reduce the negative effects of drug use on the society, at large.

Such programs usually focus on the individual suffering from any kind of substance abuse as well as on his or her surroundings. On the other hand, environmental prevention programs refer to the incorporation of changes in community conditions or policies, which eventually reduce the availability and demand for addictive substances. Some of the common substances that are typically targeted by these programs are alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, inhalants, as well as opioids.

Effect of drug prevention programs on participant’s friends

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In order to meet the specific goals, prevention programs are available in three different forms – comprising family-based prevention programs, school-based prevention programs, and community prevention programs. Serving the common goal of reducing the problem of substance abuse in the society, the programs also have a positive effect on the friends and family of the addictive participant.

According to a 2015 study published in the “Journal of Adolescent Health,” the Strengthening Families Program for Youth 10-14 (SFP10-14) significantly helped in reducing substance use problem not only for the participants but also for their friends who participated in the intervention. It was found that the positive effects of intervention percolate down to the non-participants who are constantly in touch with the participants during the intervention program.

Surprisingly, there was a marked reduction in unmonitored socializing (unsupervised time spent with friends) of the nonparticipants, along with significant changes in their attitudes toward substance use.

Precisely, the SFP10-14 is a process in which the families of children aged between 10 and 14 years come and have a meeting with the intervention facilitators once a week for seven weeks. This is done to discuss parenting practices, substance use, and other key areas such as communication skills and responses to peer pressure.

Seeking professional help

Curbing the issue of substance abuse is the need of the hour as it is taking a serious toll on the lives of the individuals involved as well as their kith and kin.

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