The teenage years are the ideal time for alcohol and drug use prevention strategies because during adolescence, teens seek acceptance, are curious about substance use, and are also looking for ways to get the validation they need to get through difficult times in their lives. Teens who try drugs and alcohol in their teen years may move on to something stronger or riskier in their adult years. Introducing teens to different alcohol and drug use prevention strategies may work to prevent a younger person from continuing drug and alcohol use later in life.
Teens that are going through transitions such as parents divorcing, relocating to a different school or even relocating to a different state or country can be especially difficult for a teen. Preventing drug and alcohol use among teens can possible prevent substance addiction later in the individual's life. As teens mature from elementary and middle school, they encounter certain psychological, physical and social challenges. It is during this period that teens are introduced to drugs and alcohol. Teens that being having alcohol and drug use problems put their futures at risk because substance use can prevent them from being successful in certain areas of their lives.
One program that has been met with mixed reviews is DARE Drug Abuse Resistance Education, a drug prevention program that was created by police officers that has been taught in many schools across America. Students who participate in the program sign a promise not to use drugs or become members of gangs. Advocates of DARE have said that the program has made a difference, while others have argued that students who did not have any drug knowledge pre-program have since tried drugs out of curiosity.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, getting students involved in science supported drug and alcohol prevention programs can have a tremendous impact on the youth that resist substance use. Science supported programs include universal programs that deal with protective and risk factors in the community and at school; selective programs that address children and adolescents that are in a particularly high risk group for substance use and indicated programs that help teens that have started alcohol and drug use.
It should be understood that not all programs are effective for alcohol and drug use prevention. Some traditional programs such as 12 step programs teach the false idea that teen alcohol and drug use is an incurable genetic brain disease that has been passed down from generation to generation. 12 step programs promote the idea that the only treatment is belief in a higher power, abstinence and meetings. For impressionable young minds, being told that their situation is hopeless and they will never be successful in their attempt to abstain; may come across as giving up on them. Studies reveal that teens who attend a 12 step program are more likely to continue or repeat their substance use.
St. Jude Retreats offers a four week cognitive behavioral education program that teaches people of all ages as well as teens, to use self awareness and self change to make decisions and choices that are productive and to develop behaviors and habits that are positive and purposeful. The program will cover topics that have an impact on the lives of youth such as peer pressure, selecting friends, academic success, setting goals and how they spend their free time.