An investigation of the value of Junior-cycle post-primary school drugs education : a 'life skills' approach

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Nally, Aine
Issue Date
MA in Addiction Studies
Dublin Business School
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Experimentation with alcohol and drugs among Irish youth typically begins early in life, the use and misuse of these substances generally increasing with age. This study was conducted to investigate whether or not the life skills approach to drugs education within Irish post-primary schools, is doing anything positive to change this worrying trend. Two hundred and forty nine junior cycle students completed a version of the Life Skills Training Questionnaire (LSTQ). Findings revealed that, although Social Personal and Health Education appeared to be a good source of life-skills knowledge, contributing to students negative attitudes towards drugs, their drug refusal skills and ability to self-control, 3rd year students did not appear to be any more learned with regard to drugs knowledge, and revealed higher levels of drug using behaviour and intention to use, than participants from either the 1 st or 2nd year student groups. Third year students also showed less ability than their 2nd year counterparts to be assertive. Additionally, students from each group showed low ability to reduce anxiety when needed. In spite of its many positives, it can be concluded that the life skills approach to drugs education provided in post-primary schools may not be sufficient in itself to protect Irish youth from the temptations and pressures of present day-society.