related to

Botvin LifeSkills Training Program

Substance Abuse Prevention in the Schools

The District Attorney's Office partners with schools and districts in complying with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's mandate under M.G.L. Ch. 71 s.96 to implement  an evidence-based substance abuse prevention curriculum. Elementary and middle school programs can be delivered to schools by the Office's staff certified in Botvin LifeSkills Training program (LST) for Grades 3-8. Our trainers can also provide certification training and support to educators to  implement programming in their own school. 

One of the most successful lines of tobacco, alcohol, and drug abuse prevention research has been conducted by Botvin and his colleagues at Cornell University Medical College using the school-based approach LifeSkills Training.

LST is unlike other prevention programs in several important ways.  First, it is based on science and was carefully designed to target the primary causes of substance use after a review of existing research literature. Second, it is comprehensive. It doesn’t just focus on one aspect of substance abuse; it addresses all of the most important factors leading adolescents to use one or more drugs by teaching them a combination of health information, general life skills and drug resistance skills. Third, although it uses a variety of teaching methods, it emphasizes the use of proven skills training methods.  Finally, the LST approach is documented by over 30 years of rigorous evaluation research. Not only has it been shown to reduce the use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs, evaluations have also proven that it is effective with a broad range of multi-ethnic and socio-economic groups. All of these factors make the LST program the most extensively evaluated substance abuse program available while the results of effectiveness studies provide solid evidence that it is the best.

LST is an evidence-based program that is being used by most states, in elementary schools according to this study in the Journal of Drug Education:  LST is a research-validated substance abuse prevention program proven to reduce the risks of alcohol, tobacco, drug abuse, and violence by targeting the major social and psychological factors that promote the initiation of substance use and other risky behaviors.  Developed by Dr. Gilbert J. Botvin, a leading prevention expert, LST is backed by over 30 scientific studies and is recognized as a Model or Exemplary program by an array of government agencies including the U.S. Department of Education and the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention.  This abstract describes the long-term outcomes on young adults 12 years after they were administered the program in 7th grade.

Rather than merely teaching information about drugs, the LST program consists of three major components that cover the critical domains found to promote drug use. Research has shown that students who develop skills in these three domains are far less likely to engage in a wide range of high-risk behaviors. The three components are:

• Drug Resistance Skills

Enables young people to recognize and challenge common misconceptions about tobacco, alcohol and other drug use. Through coaching and practice, they learn information and practical ATOD (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug use) resistance skills for dealing with peers and media pressure to engage in ATOD use.

• Personal Self-Management Skills

Students learn how to examine their self-image and its effects on behavior; set goals and keep track of personal progress; identify everyday decisions and how they may be influenced by others; analyze problem situations, and consider the consequences of each alternative solution before making decisions; reduce stress and anxiety; and look at personal challenges in a positive light.

General Social Skills

Students develop the necessary skills to overcome shyness, communicate effectively and avoid misunderstandings, initiate and carry out conversations, handle social requests, utilize both verbal and nonverbal assertiveness skills to make or refuse requests, and recognize that they have choices other than aggression or passivity when faced with tough situations.