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Student Substance Use ...and school policy approaches Daniel McMillan. Substance use and Schools Outline. Three points about student use and schools: How many students are using Complications around making school policies Complications with the supporting research
So what does that substance use look like?
how are school’s handling this issue?
It is important to note that numerous factors influencing these policies (and practice) decisions.
These factors include:
Administrators’, policy-makings’, and staffs’ personal beliefs towards youth substance use will impact the handling of this issue.
Cultural or societal beliefs:
Popular views or seemingly common-sense approaches often play a role in guiding strategies aimed at substance use.
This is most obvious through public opinion. Education is a passionate issue to many voters, large- policies are made at high levels often by elected representatives (i.e. Minister of Education), thus popular opinion may have an impact on decisions.
As well many parents and community members have influence over school systems through involvement in boards.
Societal beliefs cont’d..
Before moving on…
Can you think of any other significant factors that may influence policy decisions and the handling of student substance abuse?
Research in the adult population:
A significant amount of research exists in the adult population addressing the issue of how to best treat individuals who are currently using and abusing substances.
In this population an array of techniques are shown helpful, including harm reduction (emphasis put on reducing risks of the current behaviour and accepting the possibility that some use may still occur)7
Complications continue to exist, particularly with illicit drugs. The ability to make decisions for one’s self (legal adult) taken into account.
Research in the youth Population:
A limited amount of research exists in the area, particularly with regards to harm reduction. There are many legal and ethical research complications 11
Though limited, research demonstrates effective use of harm reduction techniques in older youth. Also demonstrates the ineffectiveness of many abstinence based approaches (such as DARE)7
More complications exist towards implementation of many approaches. The ability to make decisions for one’s selves (mature minor vs. legal adult) is often debated. Also the potential of harm is greatly increased b/c of the youths’ age
-Many students are actively using, some at concerning levels.
-Many factors may influence the handling of this student substance use and abuse. Some factors conflict with each other (and with the research)
-The incorporation of these differing factors likely result in a continuum of strategies that exists, with abstinence based and harm reduction laying on opposing ends.
-Limited research exists in the student population contributing to our knowledge of best practices. More research is needed
Abstinence based approaches believe avoidance of the substance (or behaviour) by youth is the best solution.
This is often believed to be achieved through abstinence encouragement, zero-tolerance policies and scare-them-straight tactics
Advocates of this position often argue that firm stances and strict consequences will keep the student population safe, and discourage use
Wide spread popularity of this approach
Harm reduction approaches try to reduce drug-related harm without necessarily requiring the cessation of the behaviour
Common focuses of this approach are pragmatism, focus on harms, prioritization of goals, autonomy
Can be controversial, particularly in its extremes
Advocates of this approach argue it’s realistic nature allows treatment of those already using heavily
Often used in conjunction with other approaches, particularly motivational interviewing.
Important that the decision to use a harm reduction approach is based upon select population needs, with those at higher risks of the dangers of substance abuse more likely to benefit.
Both can be useful and have their place within school systems depending on the age of youth and other specific needs.
For older youth it may be important to incorporate more harm reduction strategies into school based interventions
The idea of “delayed abstinence” incorporates both, encouraging youth to wait before engaging in the potentially problematic behaviour
Included in presentation material - See Wikispace
1. Alberta Health Services: Addiction and Mental Health. (2008). The Alberta Youth Experience Survey (TAYES). Retrieved from http://www.albertahealth serv ices.ca/2382.asp
2. Butters, J., Erickson, P., & Walko, K. (2009). CAMH and Harm Reduction: A background paper on its meaning and application for substance use issues. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Retrieved at http://www.camh.net/ Public_policy/Public_policy_papers/ harmreductionbackground.html
3. Canadian Pediatric Society (CPS). (January, 2008). Harm Reduction: An approach to reducing risky health behaviours in adolescents. Paediatric Child Health Journal, Vol. 13, No. 1. Retrieved from http://www.cps.ca/english/ statements/am/ah08-01.htm
4. Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program. (n.d.) Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wikiDrug_Abuse_ Resistance_Education#Studies_on_effectiveness
5. Drug Free America. (n.d.) Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia. Retrieved from http:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drug_Free_America_Foundation
6. Health Canada (2007). Youth Smoking Survey. Retrieved from www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ hc-ps/tobac- tabac/research-recherche/stat/index-eng.php#yss
7. Health Canada. (n.d.). Preventing Substance Use Problems Among Young People - A Compedium of Best Practices. Special Focus: A summary of evaluations of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.). Retrieved from http:// www.hc-sc. gc.ca/hc-ps/pubs/adp-apd/prevent/programs- dareprogrammes- eng.php
8. Just Say No. (n.d.). Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia. Retrieved from http:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just_Say_No
9. Marlatt, G.A. (1996). Harm Reduction: Come as you are. Journal of Addictive Behaviour, 21(6), 779- 788
10. National Drug Research Institute (NRDI): Curtlin University, Australia. (n.d.). SHAHRP: School Health and Alcohol Harm Reduction Project. Retrieved from http://ndri.curtin.edu.au/research/shahrp/
11. Poulin, Christiane. (2006). Harm Reduction for Special Poulations in Canada: Harm reduction policies and programs for youth. Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse. Retrieved from http://www.ccsa.ca/2006%20CCSA %20Documents/ccsa-11340-2006.pdf
12. Saskatchewan Ministry of Health. (November, 2009). Focus Sheet: Youth - trends and patterns of alcohol use. Retrieved from http://www.health.gov.sk.ca/Default.aspx?DN=2ffb9694- 40aa- 4c59-8561-c9c30c294889&l=English
13. War on Drugs. (n.d.). Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia. Retrieved from http:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_on_Drugs