Prevention for school students

Prevention targeting schools offers a systematic and efficient way of reaching large numbers of young people.

What works?

  • Multicomponent interventions delivered at school and based on social influence approaches and/or on learning social skills are helpful for reducing alcohol and drug use, especially cannabis
  • Moreover, interactive interventions targeted at problem students help reduce substance use and ‘drink-driving’ behaviour
  • In addition, peer-led interventions reduce illicit substance use
  • School-based programmes help to reduce bullying and victimisation, both behaviours that can be associated with substance use

What's unclear?

  • It is still unclear if school-based brief interventions can help to reduce substance use or improve behaviour in young people. School-based brief interventions showed no difference when compared with just the provision of information, yet when compared with no intervention at all, they showed weak evidence of reducing cannabis use
  • We cannot say if ‘booster sessions’ are really helpful in reinforcing the main messages of school-based prevention programmes
  • Interventions that teach social skills might not be helpful in discouraging hard drug use in students
  • In addition, programmes focused only on peers and those that just provide information  might not reduce alcohol and tobacco use

What doesn't work?

  • We are not aware of any school-based interventions that cause harm

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