New research shows that a school-based prevention program can help in the fight against prescription drug abuse among teens. A study from Duke and Penn State Universities found that while the effectiveness of school-based programs differ, one program was not only effective when used by itself but also among the most cost-effective programs studied. That program, Botvin LifeSkills Training (LST), has been extensively tested and proven effective in preventing violence, and the use of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs. The LST program, implemented in schools all over the U.S. and in 36 countries around the world, fosters youth development by teaching personal coping skills, general social skills, and skills for resisting pressures to smoke, drink, use drugs, and engage in other risk behaviors.he study is among the first to measure the success and cost-effectiveness of prescription drug abuse prevention efforts.
Researchers studied 11,000 teenagers at 28 rural public school districts in Iowa and Pennsylvania for six years. The best results came from pairing a school program such as Botvin LifeSkills Training with a family intervention, resulting in a 10% decrease in abuse rates. The Botvin LifeSkills Training program was the only school program that was effective when used by itself and resulted in lower drug abuse rates among teens.
“It’s clear that effective prevention programs offer the potential for producing a powerful public health benefit by helping teens avoid the damaging effects of prescription drug abuse. This new report proves that it has the added benefit of making good economic sense,” said Dr. Gilbert J. Botvin, professor emeritus at Cornell University’s Weill Medical College and developer of the LST program. “A relatively small upfront investment can yield tremendous health and economic benefits in terms of both the immediate- and long-term positive effects our program has on the students who participate in it.”
The study notes that, by conservative estimates, prescription drug abusers cost society an average of $7,500 each year for treatment and other expenses. Botvin LifeSkills Training was also among the most cost-effective programs studied. Research shows that LST can save as much as $38 for every dollar spent.