Classroom-based primary prevention programs with adolescents are effective in inhibiting the onset of drug use, but these programs are not designed to directly address the unique needs of adolescents at higher risk of use or already using alcohol and other drugs. This article describes the initial efficacy evaluation of a companion psychosocial small group program which aims at addressing the needs of Mexican heritage students identified by their teachers as being at higher risk for substance use or already experimenting with alcohol and other drugs. The adolescent (7th grade) small group curricula, REAL Groups, is a secondary prevention program which supplements the primary classroom-based substance use prevention program, keepin’ it REAL. Following a mutual aid approach, a total of 109 7th grade students were referred by their teachers and participated in the REAL Groups. The remaining 252 7th grade students who did not participate served as the control group. To account for biased selection into REAL Groups, propensity score matching (PSM) was employed. The estimated average treatment effect for participants’ use of alcohol was calculated at the end of the 8th grade. Results indicate that alcohol use decreased among students who participated in the REAL Groups relative to matched students who did not participate. These findings suggest that REAL Groups may be an effective secondary prevention program for higher-risk Mexican heritage adolescents.
Prevention Science – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 23, 2011
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