Past research has suggested that drug prevention and education programs that focus upon scare tactics and ‘just say no’ messages really do not work and have failed to curb substance misuse in high risk children and young people.
A program called Preventure focuses in on this area and has been developed with a new theory in mind. It has been trialed throughout Europe, Australia and Canada and is showing that it might just really be working!
The theory behind the program recognises how a child’s temperament drives his or her risk for substance use. It also acknowledges that different traits create different pathways to addiction.
The identified traits that put children at the highest risk for addiction aren’t all what you might expect though.
For example, if a child excels academically, behaves well in class and participates in numerous extracurricular activities it doesn’t necessarily mean they are immune to addiction.
The focus is upon 4 main risky traits:
- Anxiety sensitivity
Three of the four traits identified by Preventure are linked to mental health issues which are a critical risk factor for addiction.
- Impulsiveness is common among people with ADHD.
- Hopelessness is often a precursor to depression.
- Anxiety sensitivity can mean beings overly aware and frightened of physical signs of anxiety itself, which is linked to panic disorder.
The workshops delivered to the students on the Preventure program teach them cognitive behavioural techniques to address emotional and behavioural problems and encourage them to use these tools. The program has been trialed in 8 randomised locations in Britain, Australia, the Netherlands and Canada and from these it was found reductions in binge drinking, frequent drug use and alcohol-related problems. The workshops were more likely to reduce symptoms of depression, panic attacks and impulsive behaviours.