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The School Practitioner’s Concise Companion to Health and Well Being$

Cynthia Franklin, Mary Beth Harris, and Paula Allen-Meares

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195370591

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195370591.001.0001

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Substance Abuse Prevention

Substance Abuse Prevention

Effective School-Based Programs

(p.3) 1 Substance Abuse Prevention
The School Practitioner’s Concise Companion to Health and Well Being

Laura DiGiovanni

Oxford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

The reality of substance use among our youth is still very striking. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism identified alcohol as the primary psychoactive substance used by U.S. youth. Inhalant use among 8th graders has shown a dramatic increase. Although illicit drug use seems to have decreased in recent years, prescription drug use and abuse remains high. This chapter focuses one of the most promising substance abuse prevention programs to date, the Life Skills Training (LST) program. This program spans three grades for students, the first of which is intended to provide the foundation materials, and the last two of which are meant as “booster sessions” and are intended to maintain the progress made in the first year. Research has supported the effectiveness of this model, which continues to have positive study outcomes.

Keywords:   substance abuse, school-based intervention, school social work, prevention programs, Life Skills Training

Getting Started

According to all of the latest figures, it appears that our youth are smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and using illicit drugs less frequently (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA], 2004). Children’s attitudes have appeared to improve regarding substance use and abuse in recent years. In addition, participation in delinquent behaviors has dramatically declined in our youth. This is all good news and means that the substance abuse prevention approaches are working. However, many students in our schools continue to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol under age, and use illicit drugs. If some children have changed, programs will need to be even more effective to reach the remaining potential users. Therefore, it is more important than ever that the programs we use are the most effective in school-based prevention programs. One program that appears to be effective is the Life Skills Training (LST) program.

The reality of substance use among our youth is still very striking. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA, 2004) identified alcohol as the primary psychoactive substance used by our youth. The Fiscal Year 2005 Congressional Budget Justification (NIAAA, 2004) indicates that 78% of 12th graders, 67% of 10th graders, and 47% of 8th graders have used alcohol. In addition, inhalant use among 8th graders shows a dramatic increase over the past year (SAMHSA, 2004). Although illicit drug use seems to have decreased in recent years, prescription drug use and abuse remains high (SAMHSA, 2004). Also, heroin and crack use by students has not declined and continue to present problems. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (SAMHSA, 2004), 31% of children aged 12–17 years had smoked cigarettes in their lifetime. These statistics highlight the need for the use of effective substance abuse prevention approaches.

What We Know

Although prevention programs vary regarding focus (e.g., parents, family, and communities), substance abuse prevention programs have primarily been school based. Schools have the greatest access to the majority of the nation’s children (p.4) and are well known for providing education and collecting data from students about substance use and abuse (Burke, 2002).

Approaches to Substance Abuse Prevention

Traditional approaches to school-based substance abuse prevention have included information dissemination of facts, such as public service announcements. Fear arousal (e.g., trying to scare children into avoiding alcohol and drug use) is another commonly used method of traditional instruction. Another possible traditional approach has included moral appeals (e.g., doing the “right” thing). Finally, affective education, or focusing on children’s feelings of self-worth and feelings about smoking, drinking, or using drugs, was included. However, none of these approaches has seemed to be successful. The main argument for the limited or complete lack of success suggests that these methods do not address the underlying causes of substance use and abuse (Botvin & Botvin, 1992; Gottfredson, 1996; Kinder, Pape, & Walfish, 1980; Schinke, Botvin, & Orlandi, 1991; Sherman, 2000; Swisher & Hoffman, 1975). One of the most well-known school-based substance abuse prevention programs is Project DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), in which police officers go to schools and provide factual information to students. However, studies have indicated that it is not effective (Ennett, Tobler, Ringwalt, & Flewelling, 1994; Gottfredson, 1996; Rosenbaum & Hanson, 1998; Sherman, 2000).

Beginning in the 1970s, psychosocial approaches began to emerge, including resistance skills, psychological inoculation, and personal and social skills training. These approaches address more of the causes of substance abuse and have produced more promising results for reducing alcohol and marijuana use, increasing knowledge and impacts on attitudes, beliefs, and social-resistance skills (Best et al., 1984; Hops, Tildesley, & Lichtenstein, 1990; McAlister, Perry, Killen, Slinkard, & Maccoby, 1980; Schinke et al., 1991).

Meta-Analytic Reviews

Research suggests that these programs also have limitations. Early meta-analyses indicated that these previously employed school-based substance abuse prevention programs appeared to increase knowledge but did little to change attitudes and behaviors of students regarding drug use or abuse (Bangert-Drowns, 1988; Brunvold & Rundall, 1988; Tobler, 1986). Their findings also consistently point toward the need for an increased focus on psychosocial factors, such as school, family, media, and peer influences, and on personal competencies, cognitive expectancies, social skills, and psychological factors (Bangert-Drowns, 1988; Botvin & Botvin, 1992; Bruvold & Rundall, 1988; Tobler, 1986).

However, later analyses indicate that these meta-analytic reviews had a number of weaknesses. Bruvold (1993) indicates that these studies failed to meet a number of necessary criteria for current meta-analytic reviews: They were (p.5) not comprehensive, did not use a systematic screening process to eliminate studies that were not equal or methodologically sound, did not use appropriate statistical techniques, and did not cover a specified time period.

More recent meta-analytic studies conducted in the 1990s used more sophisticated statistical analyses, more methodologically sound studies, and a more defined set of studies in the analysis (Bruvold, 1993; Tobler & Stratton, 1997; White & Pitts, 1998). These meta-analyses revealed that school-based prevention programs that addressed more psychosocial factors were more effective in changing attitudes and behaviors (Bruvold, 1993; Tobler & Stratton, 1997; White & Pitts, 1998). For example, Bruvold (1993) noted that programs that attempted to develop a student’s ability to recognize social pressures to use drugs and ways to resist them, along with the ability to identify immediate social and physical consequences, were better able to change students’ attitudes and behaviors. This was best accomplished through lengthier practice, role-playing, a public declaration not to use, and most important, through discussion, rather than through earlier lecture models. Tobler and Stratton (1997) also improved on previous meta-analyses and determined that the most effective school-based prevention programs were smaller in size (not held in auditoriums) and more interactive. They noted that failures in the programs could have been due to poor implementation. Finally, White and Pitts (1998) determined that prevention programs that increased their focus on social skills training improved students’ abilities to change attitudes and behaviors, along with increasing their knowledge about drug use and misuse. Some of these social skills included a component of improving self-esteem, assertiveness and refusal skills, and life skills. In order for school-based prevention programs to be effective, an increased focus on the social aspects of students’ lives and less of a traditional lecture approach seem to be the common elements that the more recent meta-analytic studies have in common (see Table 1.1).

What We Can Do

Many of these school-based substance abuse prevention programs continue today and can be accessed through the Internet. The Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP, 1999) has created a National Registry of Effective Prevention Programs (NREPP) to identify, review, and disseminate effective alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs (ATOD) prevention programs (see Table 1.2 for program access information).

Life Skills Training and Previous Research

In the late 1970s, an integrative approach to school-based substance abuse prevention was developed by Gilbert Botvin, called the Life Skills Training (p.6) (p.7) program (Botvin, Eng, & Williams, 1980). As a research program, this effective model has received extensive study for more than 20 years, with results indicating approximately a 50%–87% reduction in the prevalence of tobacco, alcohol, or illicit drug use (National Health Promotion Associates [NHPA], 2002). In a strategic plan, Botvin and colleagues have systematically studied the effectiveness of the LST program, using experimental and quasi-experimental, pre- and posttest designs. First, they focused on the program’s effectiveness and produced a 75% reduction in the number of new student cigarette smokers (Botvin et al., 1980). Then, they examined the LST program with different providers (e.g., teachers, peer-led classes, and school staff) with continued success (Botvin & Eng, 1982; Botvin, Renick, & Baker, 1983).

Table 1.1 Descriptions of Meta-Analyses

Author: Tobler (1986)

Type of Prevention Intervention: A variety—mostly traditional, mostly affective educational, information dissemination

Substances Studies: 143 programs—a variety, including tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana

Populations: Adolescents—a variety, causing problems with findings. A variety of programs included in criteria (some students had drug problems, some had disciplinary problems, and some no problems at all)

Findings: Programs were most effective in increasing knowledge; minor improvements in reducing behaviors; even smaller effects in improving attitudes; found that peer programs were most effective in producing positive changes. Weak methodology

Author: Bangert-Drowns (1988)

Type of Prevention Intervention: Mostly traditional—affective educational programs, information dissemination

Substances Studies: Smoking prevention programs

Populations: Elementary school to college students—traditional students

Findings: Maintained support of previous findings—programs increase knowledge of substances. Changes in student attitudes were more statistically significant. Behaviors continued to show limited change. Peers in programs appear to impact changes more than didactic instruction

Author: Bruvold and Rundall (1988)

Type of Prevention Intervention: Mostly traditional—affective educational programs, information dissemination

Substances Studies: 19 programs—alcohol and tobacco

Populations: Adolescent school students

Findings: Increased knowledge, but failed to change attitudes or behaviors

Author: Bruvold (1993)

Type of Prevention Intervention: Psychosocial—personal and social skills training

Substances Studies: 94 programs—tobacco prevention, curricula mainly provided in schools

Populations: Adolescent school students

Findings: Behavioral effect sizes were found to be largest for interventions with a social reinforcement orientation, moderate for interventions with developmental or social norms orientation, and small for traditional orientation

Author: Tobler and Stratton (1997)

Type of Prevention Intervention: Psychosocial—personal and social skills training

Substances Studies: 120 programs—tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, and illicit drugs

Populations: 5th–12th graders

Findings: Most effective programs in changing adolescent drug use were interactive (groups C and D) and included comprehensive life skill training (CLST) or social influence training (SIT). Larger groups were less effective

Author: White and Pitts (1998)

Type of Prevention Intervention: Psychosocial—personal and social skills training

Substances Studies: 62 prevention programs

Populations: 71% school-based

Findings: Most effective programs were a mix of focused interventions (assertiveness skills, refusal skills, and normative education) and generic training (life skills, decision-making, problem-solving, goal-setting, and communication skills)

Further studies examined and demonstrated the effectiveness of the LST program in targeting alcohol and other illicit drugs (Botvin, Baker, Dusenbury, Tortu, & Botvin, 1990; Botvin, Baker, Renick, Filazzola, & Botvin, 1984). When examining the effectiveness with different ethnicities (in particular, Hispanic and African American) and substances, findings not only supported the efficacy of the LST program but also determined that the program did not always require cultural modifications (Botvin et al., 1993; Botvin, Dusenbury, Baker, & James-Ortiz, 1989).

Botvin and his colleagues (1990) also examined the generalizability of the program by conducting a large-scale controlled prevention trial of 5,954 students in (p.8) (p.9) (p.10) 56 schools with positive results up to 40 months after the training. This research indicates the effectiveness of the LST program over a 6-year period with 7th, 8th, and 9th grade students (Botvin, Schinke, Epstein, Diaz, & Botvin, 1995). Given the number and variety of studies conducted on the LST program, it seems clear that it offers great opportunities for school-based substance abuse prevention.

Table 1.2 Overview of Major Preventive Approaches




Source/Name of Education Program

Web Site


Information dissemination (fear arousal, moral appeals)

Increase knowledge of drugs, consequences of use; promote antidrug-use attitudes

Didactic instruction, discussion, audio/video presentations, displays of substances, posters, pamphlets, school assembly programs

Public-information campaigns; government agencies; community groups (e.g., American Cancer Society, National Council on Alcoholism)

American Cancer Society: http://www.cancer.org/docroot/PED/content/PED_10_14_How_to_Fight_Teen_Smoking.asp National Council on Alcoholism: http://www.ncadd-middlesex.com/




Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE)

Drug Abuse Resistance Education: http://www.dare.com/home/default.asp

Affective education

Increase self-esteem, responsible decision making, interpersonal growth; generally includes little or no information about drugs

Didactic instruction, discussion, experiential activities, group problem-solving exercises

Here’s Looking at You 2000


Here’s Looking at You2000: http://www.chef.org/prevention/looking.php

Me-Me: http://www.ed.gov/pubs/EPTW/eptw9/eptw9m.html


Increase self-esteem, self-reliance; provide variable alternatives to drug use; reduce boredom and sense of alienation (arts, crafts, music, sports)

Organization of youth centers, recreational activities; participation in community services projects; vocational training

Outward Bound (wilderness program)

Outward Bound: http://www.outwardbound.org/


Resistance skills training

Increase awareness of social influence to smoke, drink, or use drugs; develop skills for resisting substance-use influences; increase knowledge of immediate negative consequences; establish non-substance-use norms

Class discussion; resistance skills training; behavioral rehearsal; extended practice via behavioral “homework”; use of same age or older peer leaders

Prevention Enhancement Protocols System (PEPS)

Prevention Enhancement Protocols System: http://www.health.org/govpubs/PHD822/aap.aspx

Personal and social skills training

Increase decision making, personal behavior change, anxiety reduction, communication, social and assertive skills; application of generic skills to resist substance-use influences

Class discussion; cognitive-behavioral skills training (instruction, demonstration, practice, feedback, reinforcement)

General personal and social skills (Caplan et al., 1992)

Project Counseling Leadership About Smoking Pressure (CLASP)

General Personal and Social Skills: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=1556286&dopt=Abstract

Project CLASP: http://www.ssw.upenn.edu/crysp/publications/pub14_full.html

Life Skills Training

Life Skills Training: http://www.lifeskillstraining.com/old3.cfm

Source: Adapted from Schinke et al. (1991, pp. 20–35).

Life Skills Training. Copyright © Gilbert J. Botvin, 1979–2004.

Intervention With Steps and Examples

Based on a risk and protective model, the LST program has four main goals: to teach prevention-related information, to promote antidrug norms, to teach drug refusal skills, and to foster the development of personal self-management skills and general social skills (NHPA, 2002). The main objectives of the program are to

  • provide students with the necessary skills to resist social (peer) pressures to smoke, drink, and use drugs;

  • help them develop greater self-esteem, self-mastery, and self-confidence;

  • enable children to effectively cope with social anxiety;

  • increase their knowledge of the immediate consequences of substance abuse;

  • enhance cognitive and behavioral competency to reduce and prevent a variety of health risk behaviors (NHPA, 2002).

Working solely with the students, the underlying assumption of the LST program is that substance abuse prevention needs to address a number of areas in a student’s life. The program accomplishes this by addressing three major domains in its curriculum: drug resistance skills and information, self-management skills, and general social skills.

The drug resistance skills portion of LST provides information on the actual number of youth in the United States who use tobacco, alcohol, or illicit drugs, as well as the short- and long-term consequences of their usage (Botvin, 1996). Also included is “information about the declining social acceptability of cigarette smoking and other drug use, the physiological effects of cigarette smoking,” how to avoid media pressures to smoke, drink, or use drugs; and how to resist peer pressure (Botvin, 1996, p. 223).

The personal self-management skills training encourages students to examine their self-image and how this impacts them, and how to problem solve while looking ahead at the consequences. Information on how to reduce stress, anxiety, and anger; how to identify problem situations, how to set goals; and how to self-monitor are also central to this domain (Botvin, 1996).

Finally, to empower students to overcome shyness, learn more effective communication skills, increase their assertiveness, and recognize their life choices, the LST program offers a general social skills component. This domain explores the (p.11) topics of communication and socialization through both verbal and nonverbal skills. Through examining communication and socialization, issues about intimate relationships develop (Botvin, 1996).

The LST program spans 3 years of student development, typically either grades 6–8 or grades 7–9. The curriculum for the program has 15 sessions in the first year (7th grade), 10 sessions in the second year, and 5 sessions in the third year. Each session lasts approximately 45 minutes and can be taught either weekly or daily, depending on the students’ needs. By reinforcing the information taught in the first year, the last 2 years are considered “booster” sessions in order to maintain the gains already established in the first year. The NHPA (2002) states that the entire curriculum must be taught in the sequence provided in order to gain the full benefits. The curriculum has been modified for elementary students (24 sessions, with 8 sessions per year), and studies continue with this population. Preliminary findings suggest that this curriculum modification is successful (Botvin et al., 2003) (see Table 1.3).

The standardized curriculum offers both teacher and student manuals, enabling providers (social workers, mental health professionals, teachers, school staff, and peers) to maintain the sequence of the curriculum and provide the instruction in a variety of settings. The teacher’s manual includes goals, objectives, and lesson plans that detail the content and activities for each session. The student manuals have the necessary reference material, class exercises, and homework assignments for each session (Botvin, 1996).

Intervention methods used in the sessions include “didactic teaching methods, facilitation-group discussion, classroom demonstrations, and cognitive-behavioral skills training” (Botvin, 1996, p. 224). Because the majority of the sessions include facilitated group discussions, one of the main roles of the intervention provider is a skills trainer, or a coach, rather than an educator (Botvin, 1996).

The recommended ratio of students to provider is 25:1. In addition, studies have supported the curriculum being taught in a variety of settings, including school classrooms, after-school programs, summer camps, and community-based organizations (NHPA, 2002). However, NHPA indicates that a gymnasium is not an appropriate setting for students to learn the curriculum.

One of the strengths of the LST program is its simplicity, with easy-to-follow instructions for both teachers and students. Included in each LST program is a teacher’s manual, student guide, and audiocassette tape with relaxation exercises (NHPA, 2002). The curriculum also offers evaluation tools, including pre- and post-tests, fidelity checklists (to monitor implementation by providers), and quizzes for the students. Teacher training in each curriculum level is highly recommended.

LST is a comprehensive coverage of a range of topics. The first year of the curriculum includes sessions on self-image and self-improvement; making (p.12) (p.13) decisions; the myths and realities of smoking, alcohol, and marijuana (the “gateway” drugs to more intense substance abuse); biofeedback and smoking; advertising; violence and the media; coping with anxiety and anger; communication skills; social skills; assertiveness training; and resolving conflicts. The second year exposes students to new topics, such as the causes and effects of drug abuse and violence, and resisting peer pressure. Topics expanded upon in this second year include making decisions, media influence, coping with anxiety and anger, communication skills, social skills, assertiveness training, and resolving conflicts. The final year builds on these basics, applying the knowledge to new situations that the students experience in which they have to cope.

Table 1.3 Grid of Life Skills Program Structures for Elementary and Middle Schools

Program Levels

Elementary School Program Structurea

Program Levels

Middle School Program Structureb

Core curriculum: level 1

  • 3rd or 4th grade

  • Composed of eight class sessions

  • Covers all skill areas

Core curriculum: level 1

  • 6th or 7th grade

  • 15 class sessions

  • Cover all skill areas

  • Additional three class sessions on violence prevention (optional)

Core curriculum: level 2

  • 4th or 5th grade

  • Eight class sessions

  • Reviews all skill areas

Booster session: level 2

  • 7th or 8th grade

  • 10 class sessions

  • Additional two class sessions on violence prevention (optional)

Core curriculum: level 3

  • 5th or 6th grade

  • Eight class sessions

  • Reviews all skill areas

Booster session: level 3

  • 8th or 9th grade

  • • Five class sessions

  • Additional two class sessions on violence prevention (optional)

Middle school general information

The booster sessions provide additional skill development and opportunities to practice in key areas. The beginning of each level depends upon the transition from elementary school to middle school/junior high school

Elementary school general information

The elementary program can be used either alone or in combination with the middle school program. Under ideal conditions, it is intended to be implemented in a sequential manner across all 3 years of upper elementary school. However, the elementary program is designed to be flexible and can be implemented over 1, 2, or 3 years, depending on the availability of time

Source: From the National Health Promotion Associates Web site: http://www.lifeskillstraining.com/program_structure1.cfm.

Life Skills Training. Copyright © Gilbert J. Botvin, 1979–2004.

(a) Entire program comprises 24 class sessions (approximately 30–45 minutes each) to be conducted over 3 years.

(b) Entire program comprises 30 class sessions (approximately 45 minutes each) to be conducted over 3 years.

Tools and Practice Examples

As indicated previously, each teacher’s manual specifies the goals, objectives, materials needed, special preparation that may be required prior to the session, possible vocabulary that needs to be explained to the students, homework assignments to hand out, and then the actual directions on how to complete each session. A sample of the Teacher Manual material for the first social skills training session follows.

Social Skills (A)—Teacher Manual

Session Goal: To teach students basic social skills in order to develop successful interpersonal relationships.

Major Objectives

  • Recognize that many people feel shy or uncomfortable in social situations.

  • Discuss how shyness can be overcome.

  • Practice making social contacts.

  • Practice giving and receiving compliments.

  • Practice initiating, sustaining, and ending conversations.

Materials Needed

  • Student Guide

  • Tennis balls (two or three)

Special Preparation

  • None


  • Self-confident

  • Specific

  • (p.14)
  • Initiating

  • Sustain

  • Compliment


  • Student Guide: Review Getting Over Being Shy (p. 71) and fill out Social Activities Worksheet 21 (p. 76)


Tell students that today you are going to cover some techniques that can help make them more socially attractive and self-confident. Many people are shy and uncomfortable in social situations, not because there is anything wrong with them, but simply because they have not learned the basic ingredients of social life.

Overcoming Shyness

  1. 1. Begin a discussion on shyness by asking students how many of them consider themselves to be shy or have been told that they were shy.

  2. 2. Ask students the following questions:

    1. (a) How many of you have been uncomfortable in social situations?

    2. (b) Why do people feel shy or uncomfortable in social situations?

    3. (c) Is there anything that you can do about it?

  3. 3. Tell students that many actors and well-known personalities are shy and uncomfortable being themselves but are comfortable and able to overcome their shyness by “acting” or playing a role. By learning social skills and practicing in situations that are fairly easy at first, they can develop social self-confidence. In the beginning, it helps to “act.” They should develop “scripts” for various social situations and rehearse them (e.g., practice in front of a mirror).

  4. 4. Review strategies for getting over being shy (refer students to p. 71 of the Student Guide).

Getting Over Being Shy

Learn to act: You can learn new social skills and become more self-confident by handling difficult social situations as if you were a performer playing a role. For many shy people, it is easier to pretend they are someone else playing a part than it is to be themselves. Thus, thinking of yourself as an actor playing a part is a good first step in acquiring new social skills and becoming more confident. Start small and strive for gradual improvement: Begin by practicing on easy situations, gradually working up to more difficult ones. Develop scripts: Write out a brief script of what you want to say, how you want to say it, and what you want to do in each situation you are trying to master.

(p.15) Practice: Rehearse at home. Practice the skills you are learning and how to handle specific situations using the scripts you developed. Watch yourself in the mirror and listen to your voice. If you can, practice with someone playing the part of the other person. Be persistent: Keep at it. If you stick to it and continue to work on improving, you are bound to succeed.

Points to Make

  • Shyness can be overcome by learning to “act” as if you are not shy (by being more outgoing) and by improving your basic social skills.

  • Anxiety about social contacts can be overcome by practicing the techniques learned in the Coping with Anxiety session, particularly mental rehearsal and deep breathing.

Initiating Social Contacts

  1. 1. Tell students that an important step in overcoming shyness and a valuable social skill involves initiating social contacts (saying hello or starting a conversation).

  2. 2. Calling someone they do not know very well on the phone and asking them for specific information. For example:

    1. (a) Call the operator to ask for phone numbers.

    2. (b) Call the local department store to ask about some product(s).

    3. (c) Call your friend and talk to his or her mom on the phone.

  3. 3. Note: It helps to have a telephone for these exercises.

  4. 4. Have students practice greeting people by saying hello or by nodding, waving, smiling, etc. Have students suggest other greetings and write them on the board. Have them rehearse some of these. For example, pairs of students can rehearse:

    1. (a) meeting in the hall

    2. (b) sitting down in the cafeteria

  5. 5. Have students practice asking directions from someone they do not know.

  6. 6. Practice starting conversations with new people in public places (e.g., movie and grocery lines, doctor’s office, sporting events). Go over the examples in the Student Guide on Meeting New People p. 72 and have the students suggest additional “openers” from their own experience. Sample “openers”:

    1. (a) “This line is so long, this must be a good movie.”

    2. (b) “Have you heard anything about it?”

    3. (c) “Is that a good book? What’s it about?”

    4. (d) “That’s a nice jacket. Where did you get it?”

    5. (e) “Did you see the game last night? Who won?”

    6. (Adapted from http://www.lifeskillstraining. com/pdf/Sample_Teachers_Manual.pdf)

(p.16) Social Skills (A)—Student Manual

Accompanying the teacher’s manual is a student manual that has information and material for each session. However, the student manuals contain more of the exercise materials, rather than the “nuts and bolts” of the items to be covered. A sample of the Student Manual material for the first social skills training session follows:

Getting Over Being Shy

Many people, even famous TV and movie personalities, can be shy and feel uncomfortable in social situations. However, you can learn to be more comfortable in social situations by learning how to deal with anxiety and nervousness (practiced in the last session) and by improving your social skills in social situations. Some ideas are listed here:

Learn to “act”: You can learn new social skills and become more self-confident by “playing” a social situation as if you were an actor acting out a specific role.

Start small: Begin by practicing on easy situations, gradually working up to more difficult ones.

Prepare yourself: Write out a brief script and rehearse it at home, watch yourself in the mirror, and listen to your voice. This is what actors in plays and movies do.

Saying Hello

  1. 1. Another way to get over being shy is to practice saying hello to people.

  2. 2. Below are some common greetings:

    1. (a) “Hello” or “Hi”

    2. (b) “How is it going?”

    3. (c) “Good to see you.”

    4. (d) “Have a good (nice) day.”

  3. 3. Gestures (a nod, smile, or wave)

  4. 4. Get in the habit of saying hello to people. The more people you say hello to, the more people will say hello to you. Most people are shy. You can help them by saying hello first.

Meeting New People

Try to meet a lot of new people. Begin a conversation wherever you go (e.g., while standing in line at the movies, grocery store, bank, a sporting event, etc.). Start the conversation with something you have in common. Again, asking questions is an effective method. Below are some examples:

  • “This line is so long, this must be a good movie. Have you heard anything about it?”

  • “Is that a good book? What’s it about?”

  • (p.17)
  • “That’s a nice jacket. Where did you get it?”

  • “Did you see the game last night? Who won?”

(Life Skills Training. Copyright © Gilbert J. Botvin, 1979–2004.)


Resources for school-based substance abuse prevention programs can be found in the following list. The Web sites included in the list provide information regarding training manuals, video training tools, Web resources, books, journals, and journal articles.

  • Life Skills Training
  • National Health Promotion Associates, Inc.
  • 711 Westchester Avenue
  • White Plains, NY 10604
  • (800) 293–4969
  • lstinfo@nhpanet.com
  • Life Skills Research
  • Institute for Prevention Research, Cornell University Medical College
  • 411 East 69th Street, KB-201
  • New York, NY 10021
  • (212) 746–1270
  • ipr@mail.med.cornell.edu
  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
  • 5635 Fishers Lane, MSC 9304
  • Bethesda, MD 20892–9304
  • http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
  • P.O. Box 2345
  • Rockville, MD 20847–2345
  • (800) 729–6686 or TDD (hearing impaired): (800) 487–4889
  • http://www.samhsa.gov/ or www.health.org
  • e-mail: info@health.org
  • National Clearing House for Drug and Alcohol Information (NCADI)
  • 11420 Rockville Pike
  • Rockville, MD 20852
  • (800) 729–6686
  • http://www.health.org
  • United States Department of Health and Human Services
  • 200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
  • Washington, DC 20201
  • (877) 696–6775 or (202) 619–0257
  • http://www.os.dhhs.gov/

Key Points to Remember

  • Even though substance abuse has begun declining in recent years, tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug use continues to plague our youth. Although a number of substance abuse prevention programs have been tried in the past, traditional models do not seem effective and have had poor outcomes. More recent models that include psychosocial components have had better outcomes and seem to be reducing substance use in children and adolescents.

  • One of the most promising substance abuse prevention programs to date is the LST program. This program spans three grades for students, the first of which is intended to provide the foundation materials, and the last two of which are meant as “booster sessions” and are intended to maintain the progress made in the first year. Research has supported the effectiveness of this model, which continues to have positive study outcomes.

  • One of the reasons for LST’s effectiveness is its simplicity of use. Each session has been broken down for the teacher and student, enabling the structure of the program to be flexible for use with a number of different providers in a variety of settings. The simple, yet clear, manuals make it easy and effective to use.