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ARRA Investments in Drug Abuse Prevention

Public Health Burden
Licit and illicit drug abuse and addiction continue to drive unacceptably high rates of morbidity and mortality, as well as exacting an exorbitant social and economic cost on our Nation; the latter estimated at over $600 billion annually.  Prevention research has revealed multiple factors, including genes, brain development, and the social environment that can lead to drug addiction, and has informed programs for preventing it. Thus, we are poised to have a major impact on the burden of drug abuse and addiction through continued support of prevention and implementation research.

Prevention Targeting Youth
Although taking drugs at any age can lead to addiction, adolescence, a time when the brain is still actively maturing and when drug experimentation is most likely to occur, represents a period of heightened vulnerability.  Among the ARRA grants focused on preventing drug use among youth are:
  • A test of gender-specific and parent-involvement approaches to drug abuse prevention with girls and their mothers from YMCA centers in New York City. This project may result in the dissemination of prevention programs via YMCA facilities across the United States.1
  • A program that uses positive peer pressure (friends helping friends) to aid youth avoidance of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use.  Its goal is to promote social responsibility for health and develop youth's pro-active skills for intervening with friends in a range of social contexts.2
Other Vulnerable Populations
ARRA funded research projects that address prevention in other vulnerable populations include:
  • A project to test a drug abuse prevention intervention designed for children in the foster care system, as well as their biological and foster parents.  This will provide information on the value of training frontline foster agency workers in evidence-based interventions, and potentially diminish substance use initiation among underserved high risk children and their families.3
  • A study to determine the viability of using emergency departments to screen Latinos and non-Latinos for drug abuse in an effort to prevent escalation to addiction. The study will also refer those in need of treatment to appropriate resources.4
  • Native American youth are at particularly high risk for drug and alcohol use and their resulting problems. To address this problem, two grants will 1) develop and evaluate an internet and computer-version of an effective drug-prevention program specifically for Native American youth that is low-cost, culturally relevant and engaging;5  and 2) assess the efficacy of a home visiting program delivered by trained staff for reservation-based Native American teen mothers and their children. 6
Drug-Related Consequences
Among the myriad adverse health consequences of drug abuse are infectious diseases (e.g., HIV/AIDS) and psychiatric problems.  In fact, the CDC reports that suicide is one of the leading causes of death in young adults in the United States, with one of its top risk factors being drug or alcohol problems.  Thus, several ARRA funded grants strive to prevent the consequences of drug abuse.  These include:
  • A grant to develop and test a suicide education and prevention module for integration into standard intensive outpatient addiction treatment.7
  • A grant to develop an HIV/STD and alcohol prevention website for adolescents that will be tailored to the individual user's level of sensation seeking. The intervention is grounded in empirically verified prevention principles, and will have the potential to be quickly and widely disseminated if shown efficacious. 8
Building Capacity for Prevention
While research has led to prevention programs that can markedly reduce an array of risky behaviors, implementing these evidence-based programs on a large scale has been difficult. A number of ARRA grants will explore aspects of program implementation. Topics include:
  • Using current scientific knowledge to establish the Promise Neighborhood Consortium to help poverty-stricken neighborhoods identify ways to prevent substance abuse and associated risky behaviors.9
  • Facilitating infrastructure development and building capacity for diffusion of the effective PROSPER (PROmoting School-community-university Partnerships to Enhance Resilience) State Partnership Model.10
  • Understanding how implementers adapt a research-based program that has been adopted by more than 250 schools and community service agencies in the U.S to address the specific needs of their communities.11
Media and Prevention
When it comes to the intersection of prevention research and technology, researchers have been expanding their tool box. ARRA funded projects that will continue this trend include:
  • A grant using imaging technology to provide insights into the effectiveness of substance abuse prevention messages, and provide a useful complement to existing measures of ad effectiveness.12
  • A study to investigate the relationship between rising rates of adolescent non-medical use of prescription drugs and internet websites that market those drugs without a prescription.13

  1. 1R21DA024618-01A1 -- Drug Abuse, Adolescent Girls, and Prevention: YMCA Community Collaboration -- Schinke, Steven Paul (NY)
  2. 1R21DA025300-01A1 -- Friends Helping Friends: Socially Responsible ATOD Prevention -- Flanagan, Constance (PA)
  3. 1R01DA021851-01A2 -- Early Prevention of Substance Use Initiation in Foster Care -- Linares, Lourdes Oriana (NY)
  4. 1RC1DA028031-01 -- Screening and Brief Intervention For Latino and non-Latino White Drug Users -- Woodruff, Susan and Clapp, John (CA)
  5. 1RC1DA028381-01 -- A Computer-Based Drug Prevention Intervention for Native American Youth -- Raghupathy, Shobana (CA)
  6. 3R01DA019042-05S1 -- In-Home Prevention of Substance Abuse Risks for Native Teen Families -- Walkup, John (MD)
  7. 1R21DA026494-01 -- Preventing Addiction Related Suicide -- Ries, Richard (WA)
  8. 1R01DA018575-01A2 -- Web-Based Substance Abuse STD/HIV Prevention -- Woodall, Gill (NM)
  9. 1RC2DA028946-01 -- Creating the Scientific Infrastructure for the Promise Neighborhood Initiative -- Biglan, Anthony and Flay, Brian (OR)
  10. 1RC2DA028879-01 -- Toward a PROSPER State Partnership Network: Building Infrastructure and Capacity -- Spoth, Richard (IA)
  11. 1R01DA024639-01 -- The Impact of Adaptation on Successful Implementation -- Hansen,William B.(NC)
  12. 1R21DA024423-01 -- The Neural Correlates of Effective Drug Prevention Messages -- Heeger, David (NY)
  13. 1R01DA024658-01A1 -- Internet as Supplier: Preventing Adolescent Use of Non-Medical Addictive Rx -- Arria, Amelia (PA)

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