Programs that aim to curb teen prescription drug abuse have vastly differing effectiveness, ranging from big drops in drug abuse to no measurable effect, according to a new study of 11,000 teenagers by researchers at Duke and Pennsylvania State universities.
The best results came from pairing a school-based program with a home-based intervention, resulting in a 10 percent decrease in abuse rates. By contrast, most school-based programs were ineffective when used by themselves, with just one exception.
The study found that only one school-based program was effective when used by itself. The Botvin LifeSkills Training program resulted in 4 percent lower drug abuse rates, compared with a control group. The 18-session course teaches social skills that build competence and encourage assertiveness. LifeSkills Training was also among the most cost-effective programs studied, costing an average of $15 per child. By contrast, the study notes that prescription drug abusers cost society an average of $7,500 each for treatment and other expenses, by conservative estimates.
The six-year study is among the first to measure the success and cost-effectiveness of prescription drug abuse prevention efforts.