April 2019

What Works: Substance Abuse Prevention

By School Counselors Across the U.S.
What's the one tool or program you've found most effective in educating students about substance abuse?

We are a small school. Being vigilant, cultivating supportive relationships, educating staff and using individual interventions work well for us.
Amanda Feiker, Richmond School, Sussex, Wis.

Natural High celebrity videos, the real-cost commercials, CDC videos (Terry’s story), DARE by the local sheriff’s department.
Ann Abshire, Rene A. Rost Middle School, Kaplan, La.

Because of data from last year, one of our program goals is implementing drug prevention programs this year. We are utilizing our STARS Nashville counselor who is trained in a variety of drug prevention.
Ashley L. Sievers, Wilson Central High School, Lebanon, Tenn.

We host an addiction night for our community with presenters on various addictive substances and provide resources to take home.
Bethany Kohler, Clay High School, Oregon, Ohio

Volunteer speakers with real-life experiences to share.
Courtney Forbregd, Culbertson School, Culbertson, Mont.

Our students take the Illinois Youth Survey, and we are able to use that data to track student attitudes and behavior. We use the information to engage students in dialogue about what they and their peers think about substance use and what choices they make.
Diana Benoist, Downers Grove South High School, Downers Grove, Ill.

Straight Up reality improv – they engage young people in advocacy, education and prevention.
Emmanuel Mejia, Vista Real Charter High School, Oxnard, Calif.

We have an Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs (ATOD) Awareness Committee in our community. ATOD sponsors slogan, poster, essay, special projects and scholarship contests for all students in our school district.
Jeff Tarkowski, Kenosha Tremper High School, Kenosha, Wis.

The book “The Teenage Brian” by Frances Jensen. Telling kids what it is doing to their brain is what I have found to be most effective, because just telling them its bad or they need help doesn't work often. I often use the book and have it bookmarked when talking with students.
Katie Myers, Bay-Arenac Community High School, Essexville, Mich.

In middle schools, we have started to use the Botvin LifeSkills program in addition to using lessons from Catch.org. In March 2019, we are partnering with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to offer a Youth Opioid Summit for our high school students. 
Keeli Killian, Washoe County School District, Reno, Nev.

A lot of students think vaping/e-cigarettes is much “safer” and “healthier” than cigarettes, so giving them some basic information on how they aren’t safer really can make a world of difference. Knowledge is power.
Lilia Farmanara, Port Saint Lucie High School, Port Saint Lucie, Fla.

We use DARE currently for elementary and middle school and will begin using DEA's Operation Prevention (K–12) next year. However, I think parent education is the most important piece many programs miss.
Mary Fisher, King George County Schools, King George, Va.

Constantly weaving healthy, safe-option language and practice opportunities into SEL lessons throughout the year. Not just one week or one month of the year.
Stephen Spiehs, Northwest Public Schools, Grand Island, Neb.