Study examines programs to prevent youth prescription drug abuse

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Ames, IA – Community-based prevention programs may help reduce prescription drug abuse among middle school students, finds a new study from Iowa State University and Pennsylvania State University.

In three studies conducted between 1993 and 2002, researchers tested prevention interventions among rural and small-town students in sixth and seventh grade. The students were assigned to one of three groups: no intervention, a family-focused intervention program or a combination of family and school-based intervention. The programs addressed general substance abuse rather than focusing specifically on prescription drugs.

Researchers followed up with students when they were 17-25 years old and found the students who participated in the intervention programs were 20-65 percent less at risk of abusing prescription drugs compared to the group that received no intervention, according to the study abstract.

Similar results were found for people who had abused drugs before going through the intervention, which suggests the interventions may benefit high-risk students, researchers said in a press release.

The study was published online Feb. 14 in the American Journal of Public Health.

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