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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Good School - Less Substance Abuse

While intelligence has little effect on the outcome of abuse and addiction, good direction has a lot to do with it. Children and teenagers who are guided both socially and academically are more likely to succeed at avoiding drugs and alcohol, at least in an abusive manner. Schools with very few extracurricular activities and poor academic records are more prone to have kids with too much free time leaving the window for substance abuse wide open. Most teenagers experience drugs and alcohol in one way or another before they finish high school, the goal is to limit their exposure to illegal substances as well as alcohol.

A new study reports that students, who go to schools that excel academically, may be less likely to use drugs or alcohol, steal or fight. Researchers from the University of Florida reviewed academic achievement scores at 61 inner-city middle schools in Chicago between 2002 and 2005. There were seven schools that did better than expected and the rates of substance abuse and trouble making by students at those schools were as much as 25 percent lower compared to other schools.

The schools that had the most problems with drugs and alcohol generally hailed from neighbors of ethnic minorities as well as lower income, according to the study's lead author Amy Tobler, a research assistant professor of health outcomes and policy at the University of Florida College of Medicine. "It could be good teaching, better administration, whatever these schools are doing, if we can replicate it, it will lead to not only academic achievement but improvement in healthy behaviors as well," she said in a university news release. "Some schools can break that strong link between sociodemographic disadvantage and drug use and delinquency."

A major issue with fixing the problem that faces the under privileged is that the government is pulling more money away from the problem than they are putting towards it, without proper funding the schools which are most affected will most likely be kept out in the cold. "Almost all states are cutting budgets to public education," Tobler said. "We are increasingly asking them to do more and more with fewer resources. The extent to which schools can achieve this value-added education or continue it may be severely limited by budget cuts."

The study was published in the March issue of the journal Prevention Science.

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