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The Partnership at Drugfree.org Responds to National Institutes of Health Study on Effectiveness of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign

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Statement of Steve Pasierb, President and CEO

Study Finds Teens Exposed to Campaign Messages Less Likely to Use Marijuana

New York, NY – February 23, 2011 – A new independent, scientific analysis of the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign (NYADMC) found that teens who were exposed to “Above The Influence” drug abuse prevention messages, an integral part of the NYADMC, were less likely to use marijuana than those who are not exposed to the campaign. The study is supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health and is published in the January issue of the peer-reviewed journal Prevention Science.

Data from the study of more than 3,000 students, across 20 communities nationwide, found that by the end of 8th grade, 12 percent of those who said they had not seen “Above The Influence” drug abuse prevention messages reported marijuana use compared to only 8 percent of students who had reported familiarity with the campaign.

“The new data confirms that the campaign messages are having the intended positive effect on teens and that they are in fact working,” said Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, a nonprofit organization that assists in facilitating the creative development of the messages used in the NYADMC. “A national, research-based public education campaign that is evaluated for effectiveness remains a vital tool in helping reduce teen drug use and improve the long-term health of our children and families. The NYADMC campaign is proving to be an invaluable investment in our nation’s future at the very same time that its funding support is being seriously threatened.”

He added, “The slashing of funds and lack of support for effective drug abuse prevention programs like the NYADMC, coupled with the discussion of further cuts for additional prevention programs, are going to have a direct, negative impact on the 35 million American families with children at risk of abusing drugs or alcohol. Our prevention infrastructure is disappearing before our eyes and the result is not fair, but it’s undeniable – the additional burden is increasingly falling on the shoulders of parents and caregivers.”

Support for prevention programs like the NYADMC, has dwindled significantly over the past decade. In fiscal year 2003, which marked the peak year for recalled exposure of drug abuse prevention messages among teens, federal support of the NYADMC was $145 million, compared to only $45 million for fiscal year 2010. The kinds of extracurricular activities – programs in sports, civics and the arts – that states and localities have funded to engage kids’ positive energies and help prevent substance abuse continue to collapse under relentless budgetary pressure.

“At a time when a decade of progress on teen drug use, year after year reductions, is showing signs of reversing and children are not learning as much through schools and in the news media about the health consequences of using many dangerous drugs, it is important that we get that information to them by other means – through prevention messages, in schools and through their families,” said Pasierb. “If they don’t get critical messages like those in the NYADMC, teens will increasingly view drug use as less dangerous than did their predecessors. That misconception will leave them both vulnerable as individuals and will lead to higher rates of teenage drug use that our nation will have no choice but to address.”

To learn more about how to help parents prevent, intervene in and find treatment for drug and alcohol use by their children, please visit drugfree.org.

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