SUBSTANCE MISUSE: HEALTH PROMOTION

Health promotion with young people for the prevention of substance misuse

Background

This review assessed the effectiveness of different interventions directed either at the prevention or reduction of the use of illicit substances by young people aged between 8 and 25 years, or at reducing the harm caused by continuing use.

Findings

Inadequate evaluation makes it difficult to assess the effectiveness of many interventions, and so only cautious recommendations can be made. Too few interventions target the specific needs of individuals or particular groups of young people. Interventions tend not to consider the varying contexts in which drug misuse occurs. Promising approaches include teaching relapse prevention skills to dependent users and targeting pregnant women. School-based interventions should be tailored to take account of the stage of drug use reached by individuals and other circumstances affecting drug use. Additional interventions need to be developed targeting a range of settings, audiences and substances outside the school environment. There needs to be better understanding of what young people believe about drugs and their consequences if plausible and relevant interventions are to be developed.

Conducted by: CRD and the Department of Psychology, Staffordshire University

Publications

Health promotion in young people for the prevention of substance misuse. London: Health Education Authority; 1997. (Health promotion effectiveness reviews summary bulletin 5)

Funding

The Health Education Authority (HEA) commissioned a series of reviews to identify the effectiveness of interventions aimed at promoting a variety of aspects of health and well being. This review was part of that series and was carried out in collaboration with CRD.