Researchers develop drug abuse prevention program for young girls

realteen drug abuse prevention program

Age and gender can play important roles in addiction recovery and drug abuse prevention.

What may be an effective method of addiction treatment or prevention for middle-aged men, for example, might not work with teenage girls. Researchers explored the issue by developing RealTeen, a web-based service aimed at preventing drug abuse in middle school-aged girls.

RealTeen was developed at the School of Social Work at Columbia University to addresses gender-specific experiences like self-esteem, stress, mood, communication and body image. The program’s developers’ goal was to provide schools, health centers and communities with a low-cost, engaging and customizable intervention alternative while increasing reach and efficacy in areas where traditional methods may lack.

Drug use among adolescent girls has been on the rise; quickly matching — and in some cases surpassing — boys’ rates of drug use.

Peer influences and positive attitudes about drugs are the top pathways to substance abuse for both genders. However, for girls, having low self-esteem, depression and high-stress levels all contribute to an increased risk of developing a substance use disorder. Women, in general, have higher stress levels, are more susceptible to depression, and have a harder time quitting drugs than men, so prevention through web-based programs tailored to today’s young girls could… (continue reading)