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Strong scientific evidence supports the effectiveness of prevention programs; report states keepin’ it REAL has shown positive effects on substance use.

INGLEWOOD, CA:  The United States Surgeon General’s just-issued landmark report on alcohol, drugs and health entitled Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, concludes that alcohol and drug misuse, disorders, and addiction, are among America’s most pressing public health concerns.  As noted in the report, nearly 21 million Americans – more than the number of people who have all cancers combined – suffer from substance use disorders.

The exhaustive report’s chapter dedicated to prevention programs concludes that evidence-based prevention interventions, carried out before the need for treatment, are critical because they can delay early use and stop the progression from use to addiction resulting in costly individual, social, and public health consequences.  As the study states, “The good news is that there is strong scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of prevention programs and policies.”

The report concludes that interventions for adolescents aged 10 to 18 have been shown to affect either the initiation or escalation of substance use.  D.A.R.E.’s keepin’ it REAL curriculum is among a number of select programs the Surgeon General identifies as building social, emotional, cognitive, and substance refusal skills that provide children accurate information on rates and amounts of peer substance use.

D.A.R.E. America formed an alliance in 2008 with The Pennsylvania State University for adoption of the keepin’ it REAL curriculum as the D.A.R.E. middle school program.  The program was developed by PSU with support from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, utilizing rigorous longitudinal scientific evaluations to create this evidence-based program.  D.A.R.E. adopted the keep’in it REAL middle-school curriculum that same year and its elementary school curriculum in 2013.  D.A.R.E.’s keepin’ it REAL Elementary and Middle School Curricula adhere to relevant National Institute of Health’s Lessons from Prevention Research principles. 

In 2014, Scientific American magazine commended D.A.R.E.’s Keepin’ it REALcurricula in its article, The New D.A.R.E. Program—This One Works.  The “keepin’ it REAL” substance-abuse curriculum focuses on elementary and middle-school students’ decisions, not drugs (www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-new-d-a-r-e-program-this-one-works/).

Dr. Michael Hecht and Dr. Michelle Miller-Day, among the original developers of the keepin’ it REAL drug prevention programs adapted for D.A.R.E., state, “The early use of drugs increases a person’s chances of developing addiction and other physical and psychological problems. Consequently, preventing drug use is essential to reducing these risks. We are proud to partner with D.A.R.E. in their goal of providing evidence-based prevention programs to youth around the globe.”

For the full report and executive summary, visit http://addiction.surgeongeneral.gov/.

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