Wouldn’t it be great if schools could tackle addiction issues in students before they started, without waiting for a problem to arise? Preventure, a new program currently being tested in Canada, Europe and Australia, is aiming to do exactly that by determining which traits make children more likely to abuse alcohol, cocaine, opioids or methamphetamines later in life, and intervening before it happens.
Identifying the problem before it begins
Developed by Patricia Conrod, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Montréal, the program involves a few days of training for teachers on therapy techniques. While school programs of the past have used scare tactics or a “just say no” approach.
Preventure uses a more proactive method to identify high-risk students before addiction becomes an issue. The program incorporates cognitive behavioral techniques, and encourages teachers to form stronger relationships with at-risk students.
Top traits at risk of addiction
The four traits the program identifies as an addiction risk among children and teens include sensation seeking, impulsiveness, anxiety sensitivity and hopelessness.
Students who are identified as high-risk through the questionnaire are then given the opportunity to attend two 90-minute workshops. Each with an individual focus on developing coping skills relevant to the student’s unique personality style.
Early results show promise
According to The New York Times, screenings “can identify 90 percent of the highest-risk children, targeting risky traits before they cause problems.” The Times went on to say that the statistics following initial rounds of research were promising.
“A 2013 study published in JAMA Psychiatry included over 2,600 13- and 14-year-olds in 21 British schools, half of whom were randomized to the program,” the article explained. “Overall, Preventure cut drinking in selected schools by 29 percent — even among those who didn’t attend workshops. Among the high-risk kids who did attend, binge drinking fell by 43 percent.”
Addiction author Maia Szalavitz adds, “Dr. Conrod says that Preventure probably affected non-participants by reducing peer pressure from high-risk students. She also suspects that the teacher training made instructors more empathetic to high-risk students, which can increase school connection, a known factor in cutting drug use.”
Taking control of your future
Although Preventure has not yet been implemented in the States. This could certainly be a step in the right direction, especially considering the alarming increase in overdoses in the last decade.
If you are suffering from addiction, The Watershed is here to give you the care you need. Call our compassionate team 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-861-1768.Tags: depression in teens, drug prevention, Transtheoretical Model