Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Individual-level Strategies

Many prevention approaches focus on helping people develop the knowledge, attitudes, and skills they need to change their behavior. Most of these strategies are classroom-based. A comprehensive review of classroom-based programs yielded these conclusions about effective programs:

  • Programs that focus on life and social skills are most effective.
  • Programs that involve interactions among participants and encourage them to learn drug refusal skills are more effective than non-interactive programs.
  • Interventions that focus on direct and indirect (e.g., media) influences on substance use appear to be more effective than interventions that do not focus on social influences.
  • Programs that emphasize norms for and a social commitment to not using drugs are superior to those without this emphasis.
  • Adding community components to school-based programs appears to add to their effectiveness.
  • Programs delivered primarily by peer leaders have increased effectiveness.
  • Adding training in life skills to trainings that focus on social resistance skills may increase program effectiveness.

Source: O’Connell, M. E., Boat, T., & Warner, K. E. (Eds.). (2009). Preventing mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders among young people: Progress and possibilities. National Research Council and Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.

Developed under the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Center for the Application of Prevention Technologies contract (Reference #HHSS277200800004C).