Drug education for rural middle school students in a resilience format
Granger, Jamie Sue.
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Montana has the nation's youngest average age for first use of alcohol and marijuana. Montana also ranks among the top five states in the highest rates of alcohol use among youth. In one Montana county, 31% of eighth grade students report having had five or more drinks in a 30-day period, 14% were current cigarette smokers, and 12% smoked marijuana. The principal of a rural Montana middle school, in this same county, requested a drug education program for his sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students. The goal of the program was resilience education. Resilience education allows for the development of decision-making abilities in adolescents. This gives them the skills and knowledge necessary to make informed decisions. Education was provided about alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and methamphetamine through written materials, interactive classes, and an audio-visual presentation. Information was also given about peer use statistics, influences that promote drug use, and the harms associated with drug use. Drug resistance skills were introduced through the use of role-play scenarios and small group interaction in the classroom setting. A pretest and posttest, created by the project writer, were given to twenty-eight students. The pretest mean score was 57.39% and the posttest mean score was 80.64%. This is statistically significant at the .01 level. Eight student's posttest answers were more responsive on the short answer essay question than were their pretest answers, 16 students gave comparable pretest and posttest answers, and four gave more responsive pretest answers. Resilience drug education, combining factual drug information, consequences of drug use, and social skills training, has been found to be the most effective educational method in reducing drug use behavior. Further research of methods providing effective resilience education should be continued.