The Adolescent Substance Abuse Prevention Study

A Randomized Field Trial of a Universal Substance Abuse Prevention Program

A school-based substance abuse intervention, Take Charge of Your Life (TCYL), caused significantly higher usage of alcohol and cigarettes among participants. White students were more likely than non-white students to complete the program.

This article derives constructive lessons from the Adolescent Substance Abuse Prevention Study (ASAPS), an assessment of the TCYL program. ASAPS employed trained D.A.R.E. instructor-officers to administer TCYL lessons to students in seventh and ninth grades. ASAPS was a randomized field trial that included 83 school districts. Student participants provided data through seven self-administered surveys from seventh to 11th grades.

Key Findings:

  • A significantly higher proportion of students in the TCYL treatment group used alcohol and cigarettes compared with students in the control group at the conclusion of the intervention.
  • Female students in the treatment group were more likely to smoke cigarettes than those in the control group.
  • D.A.R.E. instructors received an average content coverage score of 74 percent and used the appropriate instructional strategy 55.5 percent of the time.

ASAPS contributes critical lessons to the body of research on adolescent substance abuse treatment by revealing deficiencies of TCYL. This report opens up the question of whether prevention programs should be universal in nature.