Closing the Gap: An examination of access to Best-In-Class evidence-based alcohol and other drug prevention programs for K-12 students in the U.S. (2015)

This study was initiated for two reasons. First was an intention to help all those educators, counselors and community leaders who have been instructed by someone to, “Go out and select a good prevention program for our students and families.” Second was a desire to better understand where effective alcohol and other drug school-based prevention programs were being applied in U.S. public schools.

In early 2005, a group of researchers examined the prevalence of evidence and school-based substance misuse prevention programs in high schools across the U.S. (Ringwalt et al. 2008). Information was gathered using surveys based upon a random sample of middle schools and high schools. Researchers then gathered sequential data from each school’s drug prevention coordinators. Findings indicated that 56.5% of U.S. high schools implemented some form of substance abuse prevention in current health curriculum, yet only 10.3% used evidence-based curriculum. This research is indicative of an alarming gap between the number of students who have access to effective evidence-based alcohol and other drug prevention programs and the total number of K-12 students in the U.S.

The need to close the access gap to effective evidence-based alcohol and other drug prevention programs is undeniable. And there are three specific actions that, if assembled, can contribute to the collective action required to close the access gap to effective, evidence-based alcohol and other drug prevention programs available to K-12 students in the U.S.