An investigation into secondary school students' views on the national substance abuse prevention programme

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Authors
Wallace, Maeve
Issue Date
2010
Degree
MA in Addiction Studies
Publisher
Dublin Business School
Rights
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Abstract
Substance addiction continues to be a widespread and pervasive aspect of modem Irish society. The primary prevention effort directed at adolescents consists of the secondary school substance abuse prevention programme, 'On My Own Two Feet', which has not been evaluated since its introduction in 1994. The present study aimed to investigate secondary-school students' views on the programme. The study adopted a mixed-methods approach: a survey was administered to 102 5th -year students (58 females: 44 males) from three South Dublin secondary-schools, with supporting evidence from semi-structured interviews conducted with clients attending a substance abuse rehabilitation project, regarding the role of education as a preventive measure. The survey findings indicated considerably mixed views on the programme. The majority of students agreed that it is a 'useful' source of information, although the sample was almost equally divided as to whether or not the programme would have any influence on their decisions regarding substance use. A substantial number of students indicated that the programme could be improved by the inclusion of more detailed factual information, realistic and relevant content, guest speakers with real-life experience of substance abuse and greater classroom discussion. The absence of focus groups from the current study is noted as limiting the scope of the findings. It is suggested that an overhaul of the existing out-dated programme be undertaken so as to bring Irish primary prevention efforts in line with best international practice.