What is the role of schools in alcohol, tobacco, and other drug education and prevention?
- School administration, teachers and staff can create safe environments and positive cultures for students.
- Schools can create a sense of community and belonging for all students.
- Schools can help to mitigate risk factors that can make students vulnerable to engaging in dangerous behavior. (School domain: School failure, low commitment to school, not college bound, aggression toward peers, associating with drug-using peers, rules/ policies/norms favorable to alcohol and other drug use; Source: National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. (2009). Preventing mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders among young people: Progress and possibilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
- Schools can boost protective factors and increase student engagement. (healthy peer groups, school engagement, positive teacher expectations, effective classroom management, positive partnering between school and family, school policies and practices and policies to reduce bullying, high academic standards, presence of mentors and support for development of skills and interests, opportunities for engagement within school and community, positive norms, clear expectations for behavior, physical and psychological safety, connectedness to adults outside family. Source: National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. (2009). Preventing mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders among young people: Progress and possibilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
- Schools can educate students, families and school professionals about the dangers of drug use and how to prevent underage drinking, vaping, and opioid misuse and addiction through a variety of environmental strategies, specific information pieces, programming and prevention education activities.
- Schools can deliver evidence-based prevention programs, including the Project SUCCESS Student Assistance Program.
- Schools and school districts can have policies and procedures that support students who are currently using and who are in recovery as well as support students whose family members are experiencing substance use addiction or are in recovery.
- Schools can be prepared to respond if an opioid overdose occurs on school grounds by ensuring school staff learn how to prevent and manage an opioid overdose, ensuring access to treatment for anyone misusing opioids or other substances, and ensuring ready access to naloxone (and proper training). This includes education programs for students and families around the safe storage and disposal of prescribed medications. Work with the local Substance Misuse Prevention Coordinator in the Public Health Network to connect with training opportunities and storage and disposal resources. In addition, SAMHSA has a toolkit available.
Schools are not alone!
There are resources available for schools in NH to support these efforts:
New Hampshire Teen Institute
NH Life of an Athlete
Media Power Youth
Youth Leadership Through Adventure
NH Department of Education Bureau of Student Wellness
Everyone is an Asset Builder
Youth Mental Health First Aid
NH Student Assistance Program
The Upper Room
Dover Youth 2 Youth
CATCH My Breath
Schools are not alone.
Students go home to their families and their communities. Prevention works best when a multi-system approach is applied, with schools, families, and communities working together.
Make sure your school is working with the NH DOE Office of Student Wellness to implement a Multi-tiered System of Support for Behavior framework, your community’s Substance Misuse Prevention Coordinator, your local Prevention Coalition, and your Regional Public Health Network.