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The Evolution of Substance Misuse Prevention Among Teens

Dr. Lori Holleran Steiker presents research on how culturally grounded social work can aid in youth substance misuse prevention
By John Carranza

How have efforts to curb substance misuse among teens evolved over the past several decades?

High rates of adolescent drug use in the United States has posed a problem to researchers of human development for decades. In the 1960’s, the epidemic of teen drug use began to sky rocket, causing researchers who study human development to begin seeing drug use as a social norm. In an effort to curb widespread drug use, programs such as D.A.R.E began sprouting up to educate youth on the risks associated with drug misuse and to teach students how to resist peer pressure. Although these programs ameliorated the issue of widespread drug misuse among teens, the research has shown that these successes were not, in fact, due to these programs’ attempts to educate youth, but rather due to the sustained and long-term interaction that these programs fostered between teachers and students. The more successful programs additionally accounted for the maturation process of adolescents and the cultural environments that adolescents negotiate daily.

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