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The survey also shows that compared to earlier studies, the age of first use tends to be lower. Conversely, recent data from provincial student drug use surveys suggests that age of first use has risen in recent years. Nevertheless, early drug and alcohol use and later problematic use are known risk factors for future delinquency among youth. In fact, subsequent problematic substance abuse can lead to individuals engaging in criminal activity in order to support their addiction. Individuals most commonly engage in shoplifting, prostitution and breaking and entering as a method to obtain alcohol and illicit drugs.

Also, The most commonly used illicit drugs were hallucinogens such as magic mushrooms followed by ecstasy, cocaine, solvents, stimulants, glue and crystal methamphetamine, in descending order. Research indicates that the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut have a large number of isolated Aboriginal communities, which have disproportionately high rates of illicit drug consumption when compared to the national average.

The First Nations Regional Longitudinal Health Survey, indicates that the highest risk group for both drinking and drug use among Aboriginal people was young males aged While the health risks of cigarette smoking are well known, what is not common knowledge is the finding that the use of tobacco by youth is associated with more frequent use of alcohol, cannabis and other illicit drugs, relative to youth who do not smoke.

It is important to understand the issues facing youth at risk of using or already using drugs and alcohol because of the association with other antisocial and violent behaviors. The criminological literature is replete with studies that correlate drug involvement with criminal activity. For this, there is no ready answer. Rather, research findings reveal a gamut of responses which vary depending on the kind of drugs in question, individual factors, cohort demographics, psychological predispositions, economic circumstances, biological markers and environmental influences.

However, these links will not be addressed as it is beyond the scope of this paper. Onset of delinquency typically peaks in mid-adolescence and then declines dramatically after age On the other hand, illicit drug use usually begins in mid-adolescence, and initiation of some substances continues into young adulthood.

They also reveal the most typical trajectory, namely that among subjects who initiated delinquency and polydrug use, minor delinquency almost always came first and, in fact, no one initiated marijuana or polydrug use before minor delinquency. All this to say that the relationship between drugs and crime is complicated but relevant. The exact nature of the link between drugs and crime remains unclear and should be examined among different types of populations. However, common risk factors between drugs and crime as well as how crime and substance abuse can precipitate each other are the strongest known links.

Research in the trajectories of young delinquents has also established that early, persistent delinquent behavior accompanied by substance abuse, is a strong predictor of an adult criminal trajectory. Rates per , people for drug-related violations in were highest for individuals between the ages of 18 and 24 in followed by year-olds. Substance abuse, particularly alcohol, may be a precipitating or aggravating factor in the commission of an offence by either impairing an individual's ability to respond appropriately to difficult situations or by rendering individuals more vulnerable to victimization.

In fact,more than half of offenders have consumed alcohol or drugs before committing a sexual assault. Another important dimension of substance abuse is its link to victimization, particularly its negative impacts on family life.

Families, Drugs and Crime: Keeping Children Clear of Drugs and Crime

Parents who suffer from substance dependency are often implicated in negligence, maltreatment and sexual or physical abuse of their children. Indeed, children who suffer these abuses are more likely to develop a dependency on alcohol or drugs. Results indicate a correlation between gangs and drugs in schools, School dropouts who get involved in drug selling are at higher risk of being involved in gun-related violence.

The good news for practitioners is that a large number of school-based drug prevention programs have been researched and evaluated. This is not to say that there isn't a need to raise the rigor of evaluations and conduct more meta-analyses and systematic reviews, but rather that the good work that has been done in this field has provided concrete, attainable processes and strategies for program practitioners to follow. This section outlines some key lessons to keep in mind in implementing school-based drug prevention programs. Often it is the case that a strategy can best be understood by illustrating the flipside namely, what doesn't work or doesn't work so well.

On the contrary, approaches which include resistance-skills training to teach students about social influences to engage in substance use and specific skills for effectively resisting these pressures alone or in combination with broader-based life-skills training do appear to reduce substance use. Studies suggest that the reason why these components of drug prevention programs work is because they begin from the premise that youth behaviours in regards to alcohol and drug use are strongly affected by social context, biological and emotional needs, and real and imaginary pressure from peers and others.

Interventions that focus solely on healthy attitudes and providing factual information in a classroom setting, fail to take environmental pressures into account at their own peril. Generally, effects for instructional substance use prevention programs decrease rather than increase over time in the absence of continued instruction.

Research has shown that programs need to be delivered at certain critical stages of transition i. With regards to timing and intensity of the program, there is evidence that most of the successful programs are intensive and long-term, incorporating booster sessions. More comprehensive social competency promotion programs work better than programs which do not focus on social competencies and those that focus more narrowly on resistance skills training.

Cognitive behavioral training methods such as feedback, reinforcement, and behavioral rehearsal are more effective than traditional lecture and discussion. It is clear that the 'didactic' approach is not as well received as an interactive, creative approach. This approach suggests that, in order to resist substances, young people need to be able to use counter arguments effectively.

The evidence suggests that teachers ought to employ 'normative' information in their approach. Students tend to over-estimate the extent to which their peers use drugs, miscalculating what is the 'normal' level of experience with drugs. Normative components may play a critical role in encouraging students to use peer resistance strategies.

Families, Drugs and Crime Keeping Children Clear of Drugs and Crime

In the absence of a normative component, research reveals that resistance training appeared relatively ineffective. Attention needs to be paid to the manner in which drug-education programs are carried out by teachers. Those teaching the program need to be engaging, youth focused and interactive. In fact, it has been shown that young people use drug prevention information if it is accurate, honest and delivered by people they trust. Finally, successful school-based programs are often implemented as part of a broader integrated effort to address drug and crime problems in the local community.


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Recent evaluations of programs touted under the 'model' or 'best-practice' banner have been scrutinized by evaluators, and what follows are some key points that should be considered when choosing drug abuse prevention programs:. Problems that typically arise in the evaluation phase of school-based drug prevention programs include group randomization, lack of consent to participate, attrition from the study, and influential interactions among participants within a study.

Another area of concern is the length of the follow-up period. Few drug prevention evaluations examined outcomes more than two years after the end of project implementation. It can be said that any positive early results tended to dissipate after a few years. While this knowledge could lead to a pessimistic view of school-based drug prevention programs, it serves a better purpose in guarding against unrealistic expectations in terms of achieving sustained behavioral outcomes.

It also underlines the need for processes and evaluations that are rigorous, consistent, transparent and of a longer term nature than is presently the case. The literature suggests that school-based drug prevention programs ought to be but one piece of a larger picture. That larger picture involves a broader scale, community wide effort that organizes the strengths and resources of multiple agencies to combat drug use and crime. Given that local tailoring of programs and contextual adaptation is fundamental to program success, what is of greater significance than merely copying a program is to ensure that the principles that are found in the most promising and successful programs are considered when developing any drug prevention program.

Prevention programs can be implemented in various settings such as the school, community and family. Youth spend much of their time in a school environment, and schools are important places to implement prevention programs that seek to reduce and eliminate the risk of engaging in early use and future delinquency. School-based settings provide opportune environments in which to provide knowledge and tools to prevent and reduce youth drug involvement. Numerous drug prevention programs have been evaluated over the years and some have been shown to have positive results.

What is apparent from the research and evaluation literature is that select components of school-based drug prevention programs are proving promising and have shown their worth in different school environments over time. The program places highly trained professionals in schools to provide a range of substance use prevention and early intervention services. Project SUCCESS was tested with 14 to year-old adolescents who attended an alternative school that separated them from the general school population.


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Participants typically came from low to middle income, multi-ethnic families. This individual will provide the school with substance abuse prevention and early intervention services to help decrease risk factors and enhance protective factors related to substance abuse. Findings indicate that after 21 months following the intervention, alcohol and drug users participating in Project SUCCESS either reduced or delayed their use of other substances compared to users in the control group.

Project SUCCESS was found to be effective with both genders, students from various ethnic groups, and across grade levels from the 9th to 12th grades. Project Toward No Drug Abuse TND is a targeted intervention and interactive program designed to help high school youths ages 14—19 resist substance use. This school-based program consists of twelve to minute lessons that include motivational activities, social skills training, and decision-making components that are delivered through group discussions, games, role-playing exercises, videos, and student worksheets over a four week period.

The program was originally designed for high-risk youth in alternative high schools and consisted of nine lessons developed using a motivation-skills—decision-making model. It addresses topics such as active listening skills, effective communication skills, stress management, coping skills, tobacco cessation techniques and self-control—all to counteract risk factors for drug abuse relevant to older teens.

Project TND has been rigorously evaluated. Results show that TND led to significant reductions in hard drug and alcohol use. The evaluation conducted on mainstream high school students also showed a significant reduction in hard drug and alcohol use among intervention students at the one year follow-up.

Parental responsibility for safeguarding

They were also less likely to carry weapons. ALERT is a widely-used middle-school drug prevention program that was originally a universal program. ALERT claims to curb cigarette, marijuana and alcohol misuse and help even high-risk youth. ALERT is a two year classroom curriculum of eleven lessons, plus 3 booster lessons that should be delivered during the following year.

It targets alcohol, marijuana and cigarette use and is designed to help students identify and resist pro-drug pressures and understand the social, emotional and physical consequences of harmful substances. It aims to motivate students against using drugs and give them the skills they need to translate that motivation into effective resistance behavior, an approach that is widely viewed as the state of the art in drug-use prevention.

ALERT is a science-based program, meaning that its effectiveness has been demonstrated through rigorous criteria typically include research design, deterrent effect, sustainability and replicability research and in , the US Department of Education named ALERT an exemplary model program.


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ALERT, unlike some other American programs, addresses substance misuse rather than simply use, because of the widespread acceptance of these substances amongst youth. ALERT and many other school-based drug prevention programs draw on the tenets of social learning theory.

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Social learning theory focuses on the learning that occurs within a social context, and considers that people learn from one another through observation, imitation and modeling. Basically, social learning theory says that people can learn by observing others' behavior and the outcomes of those behaviors; that learning may or may not result in a behavior change; and that cognition plays a role in learning. Accordingly, awareness and expectations of future reinforcements and punishments can have a major effect on the person's behaviors. The LST prevention program is a three year intervention designed to be conducted in school classrooms.

The LST program has been designed to target the psychosocial factors associated with the onset of drug involvement. The program impacts on drug-related knowledge, attitudes and norms, drug-related resistance skills, and personal self-management and social skills. Increasing prevention-related drug knowledge and resistance skills can provide adolescents with the information and skills needed to develop anti-drug attitudes and norms, as well as to resist peer and media pressure to use drugs.

Teaching effective self-management skills and social skills improving personal and social competence offers the potential of producing an impact on a set of psychological factors associated with decreased drug abuse risk by reducing intrapersonal motivations to use drugs and by reducing vulnerability to pro-drug social influences. The LST program consists of 15 class periods of 45 minutes each and is intended for junior high school students.