Preventing Drug Use among Students

Adolescent drug abuse is a leading concern to health organizations as well as many government agencies because drug use is primarily initiated during this stage (Dube, Felitti, Dong, Chapman, Giles, & Anda 2003). Early prevention would thus likely decrease the over-all prevalence of drug abuse. This study will focus on adolescents enrolled in high schools. A 2002 national survey showed that 54% of high school students indicate using an illicit drug (Crouch, Caravati & Booth 2004). Considering the greater access that high school students have to drugs, this would be an ideal population to study.

The goal of this study is to assess how drug abuse might be deterred through school prevention programs and parental support. Many schools provide students with education regarding the harmful effects of drug use. Most of these programs even include methods which students might employ to refuse offers of drug use. However, few studies have assessed the effectiveness of these programs. Past studies have emphasized that the lack of assessment regarding the actual impact of drug intervention programs and campaigns may very well be the reason why the numbers indicating drug abuse have not gone down (Calvani, Guia, & Lemahieu 1997).

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Therefore, an analysis of the effect of these programs should be undertaken so that the programs themselves might be modified to better address the problem of drug use. Moreover, it has been shown by numerous studies that family history and substance abuse by parents increases the likelihood of drug abuse (Compton, Cottler, Ridenour, Ben-Abdallah, & Spitznagel 2002; Boyd, Plemons, Schwartz, Johnson, & Pickens 1999). Considering that parental encouragement of drug use increases the likelihood that adolescents may actually do so, this study will find out if a negative impression fostered by parents will discourage adolescent drug use.

This study hopes to provide a basis for a stronger campaign against adolescent drug use through school drug programs coupled with parent participation. A collaborative effort undertaken by the two spheres of influence over the student’s life is important in order to ensure the decrease in the prevalence of drug abuse. Review of Related Literature Similar studies to the one currently being undertaken have been conducted in the past. However, most of these studies have been conducted with a different population or involved only a part of the factors being present herein.

This study is different in that it contemplates the interaction effect of school and parent participation. In order to place the present study in the proper context and to better control for the variables being introduced, these past researches will be discussed. Evans-Whip et al. (2007) conducted a study with a scenario similar to that being undertaken herein. In their study they evaluated whether or not students and parents were aware of the drug policy of the child’s school. Through their study it was shown that parents and students were aware of such policies.

The stricter the sanctions imposed by the school, the more effective the drug policy was in preventing drug abuse among the students. Furthermore, the study showed that an abstinence message was more effective in preventing drug abuse than a harm-minimization message. In the above-discussed study the role of the parents was limited to mere awareness of school programs. However the study conducted by Hogue et al. (2002) gave more emphasis to parental participation. In the latter study parents were not only informed of the drug prevention program adopted by the school but they were actually addressed in the treatment.

The program introduced by Hogue et al. allowed schools to adopt a family intervention program wherein not only the child’s needs were attended but also the family’s. It was shown that the risk of drug abuse was minimized through the family intervention program. Hogue et al. ’s study delimited the application of the program to high-risk families. Furthermore, it addressed the concern regarding the increased probability of drug abuse by adolescents with family members who themselves were substance abusers.

The present study does not only address the needs of high-risk students but hopes to encourage a program that will be beneficial to the general population of the school. The studies conducted by Hogue et al. and Evans-Whip et al. are useful in providing a procedural framework for the present study however. It should be noted that the current study only wishes to evaluate the effectiveness of a combined school program and parent participation system in preventing drug abuse. No particular school program is therefore being implemented or encouraged.

It is further noted that the leading drug prevention program employed by schools is Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) (Botvin, Baker, Dusenbury, Botvin & Diaz 1995; Ennett, Tobler, Ringwalt, & Flewelling 1994). Both studies reported the ineffectiveness of DARE. The study of Ennett et al. however is of greater significance to the present study since the population studied was young adults. The study of Ennett et al. (1994) illustrated the need to assess the efficacy of current drug programs. Findings showed that the short-term effectiveness of the program is minimal.

The study even illustrated that other prevention programs more interactive in nature were more effective than DARE. This study, while showing that the mere adoption of a drug prevention program doesn’t account for actual prevention, also reflects that a drug prevention program must be able to cater to the particular interest of the target population. Take for instance the finding that there is a greater efficacy of interactive programs. This reflects that young adults must be engaged in multi-levels in order to attract and keep their attention.

Young adults are more relational in nature thus interactive programs would be more incentivizing to them. In the present study the DARE findings hold bearing because of the interactive nature of parent participation in the campaign. It is therefore hoped that this interaction at home will supplement the program employed in school to better communicate the message of abstinence to the adolescent. Therefore, what is hoped to be impressed upon the schools is that program implementation and parent awareness is not sufficient to address the problem of drug abuse.

The school needs to empower not only its faculty but also the parent counterparts in order that drug prevention rates might increase. Apart from school-based drug prevention campaigns, parent participation has been studied in various settings. The study conducted by St. Pierre and Kaltreider (1997) focused on parent participation in drug prevention programs applied to clubs of adolescents. The study showed positive effects in the clubs wherein the parent participation was introduced. In this particular study it was shown that parents participated through several methods.

The first method was the parent-child interaction which was fostered through the program. Further, parents were gathered in order to better educate them regarding drug abuse and their role in the prevention. Finally, parents were afforded support by other member parents in order that they might better address the needs of the children. This study provides basis for the finding that parent participation increases the effectiveness of a drug prevention program. However, the situation in St. Pierre and Kaltreider’s study is different from that which faces a school administration.

In the former, the adolescents studied were high-risk cases and they voluntarily joined the club in order to address the problem of their circumstance. On the other hand, in a school there is a mixture of high- and low-risk cases. A number of the students who are high-risk cases will not even be willing to identify themselves. Most of said students won’t even know that they are at a greater risk than their peers. What can be applied from St. Pierre and Kaltreider’s study is the definition of parent participation in the process of drug prevention.

The discussion thus far has given an understanding of how past studies obtained data and in what areas of drug prevention they focused. The present study has already outlined the goals to be attained but not the variables which are to be studied. Of importance is the end product of this study. The study hopes to produce reliable data regarding the prevalence of drug abuse in high school students. In analyzing the incidents of drug abuse, two factors will be considered: the presence of a school drug prevention program and the presence of parent participation.

The interaction effect of these two variables will also be analyzed. Furthermore, noting the high-risk situations of students whose parents are themselves substance abusers, the interaction effect of the presence of a school drug prevention program with the presence of a negative impression as given by a parent will also be analyzed. High school students here will be understood to mean grade 7 to 9 students enrolled in a middle-class public or private school. This is similar to the study conducted by Evans-Whip et al. (2007).

The range of students to be included in the study will ensure the representation of the population. The parents of these students will be the guardians under whose care they are placed while enrolled in school. Although past research has focused on the birth parent this will not be the case herein due to the goal of the study (Evans-Whip et al. 2007, St. Pierre & Kaltreider 1997). Since parent participation will be examined here as a supplement to the school’s program then it is important that it is the parent or guardian who is in actual custody and living with the adolescent who is involved (Hogue et al. 2002).

A school drug prevention program will be understood to mean any program or policy that is adopted or imposed by the school for the benefit of the entire student population. This program doesn’t contemplate optional programs which are offered by the school for students who wish to avail of the same. Associations which are affiliates of the school and provide opportunities for the students to learn about drug abuse are also not contemplated. The nature therefore of the drug prevention program studied here is one that is imposed on the adolescent by virtue of his membership in the student population of the school.

Therefore, the program is either mandatory, a part of the curriculum, or it is a policy which is part of the disciplinary procedures of the school. Parent participation is akin to that defined by St. Pierre and Kaltreider (1997). This is involvement by the parent in the program implemented by the school either through actual attendance in the program and through independent follow-up at home. The participation contemplated in this study is broad in nature and includes independent acts of the parent. The participation of the parent may be positive or negative.

The definition thus of positive parent participation is any act performed by the parent and which communicates to the adolescent the message that drug use should be abstained from. There is a qualification to this definition. The message to abstain must be directed to the adolescent. Thus, general statements that drug use is bad will not serve as participation. On the other hand, negative parent participation is any act which communicates to the child that drug use is tolerated, allowed, or even desired. Actual use by the parent would be an example.

However, the mere silence of a parent regarding the issue of drug abuse doesn’t amount to negative participation. Most importantly, drug use will be defined as the use of any illicit drug or the use of a prescription drug for non-medication purposes. Finally, prevention shall be defined as complete abstinence from drug use and not mere minimizing of harm. This type of prevention should be targeted by the school prevention program as well as the parent participation. It is hypothesized that the research will produce findings showing that an interaction effect will present between school drug prevention programs and parent participation.

The presence of a school program and the presence of positive parent participation will lower the incidence of drug use among adolescents. Methodology The study of Evans-Whip et al. (2007) as well as Hogue et al. (2002) are instructive regarding the manner of conducting the research. Most of the procedures herein will be adopted from the study of Evans-whip et al. (2007). However the manner of assessing parent participation will be done in the same manner as that in the study by Hogue et al. (2002). Participants

The participants in this study will be at least 20 students each from grades 7 to 9 in a middle-class public school and at least 20 students each from grades 7 to 9 in a middle-class private school. Therefore, N=120 approximately. The schools will be chosen through accessibility to the researcher by means of proximity. However, the choice of students will be randomized. The purpose of the study is to benefit the general population of adolescent students and not a particular class. In order to better represent the population therefore, randomization will be a better process.

Furthermore, the school may wish to protect its own interest and the tendering of student participants who have exemplary records will confound the study. In choosing the schools, only those which employ drug prevention programs will be accessed. Since the focus study is the interaction effect between the presence of the school program and parent participation, it is therefore necessary that the school have a drug prevention program. Due to time and financial constraints, only two schools will be studied. Therefore the set-up wherein there is parent participation but no school program will not be studied here.

The first step in accessing the population is to obtain the permission of the director or principal of the school. A letter will be drafted to the principal or director intoning the purpose of the study and the potential benefits that this study may provide to the school’s drug prevention program. Furthermore, the school will be assured anonymity in the discussion of the paper. Once this permission is secured, the permission of the teachers of the particular classes chosen for study will be obtained. They will be given the same information and assurance as the director.

Upon approval of the director, the class to be studied will be determined through a draw-lots process. A particular subject will be chosen by the draw then a particular time period then a particular teacher if there is more than one. This will determine the class to be studied per grade level. All the students in the class chosen will be asked to participate in the study regardless if they exceed 20 in number. However, students who submit incomplete questionnaires at the end of the time for answering said questionnaires will not be included in the participant pool.