Promising Community Drug Abuse Prevention Programs

Gao ID: T-PEMD-91-7 May 17, 1991

GAO discussed comprehensive community-based programs related to drug abuse prevention and evaluated the methods two federal agencies used to recognize exemplary programs. GAO noted that: (1) rather than addressing drug abuse prevention directly, many successful programs used an indirect approach by embedding drug abuse prevention in the context of program activities; (2) many of the programs aimed broadly at empowering youths with the range of skills necessary to make positive, constructive, and healthful choices; (3) some of the programs engaged in goal- or product-oriented activities rather than passive classroom lectures or group discussions; (4) many programs employed a cultural perspective to teach youth self-respect by helping them to take pride in their cultural heritage; (5) structure and discipline were emphasized in program design and in working with individual youth; and (6) many programs were in the first two stages of evaluation, 90 percent were collecting data, and 42 percent had not yet analyzed their data. GAO believes that: (1) solutions to the nation's drug abuse problem will come faster when evaluation of program effectiveness becomes the main test for action, funding, and recognition; and (2) the underlying policies of the recognition efforts unnecessarily limited the search for successful programs.

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