Implementation and Impact of a Family-Based Substance Abuse Prevention Program in Rural Communities

By Colleen Pilgrim, Antonia Abbey, Peggy Hendrickson, and Sue Lerenz

Published in The Journal of Primary Prevention, Vol 18, No. 3, 1998

A family-based alcohol, tobacco, and other drug abuse prevention program was evaluated. The program targeted families with students entering middle or junior high school The goals of the program were to increase resiliency and protective factors including family cohesion; communication skills, school attachment, peer attachment, and appropriate attitudes about alcohol and tobacco use by adolescents. The Families In Action program is a structured program which includes six 2.5-hour sessions, offered once a week for six consecutive weeks to parents and youth. The program was offered to all eligible families in eight rural school districts. Families who chose to participate began the program with lower scores on several protective factors as compared to nonparticipating families. Analysis of covariance controlling for initial differences found several positive effects of program participation at the one-year follow-up. The results were strongest for boys. These findings suggest that providing parents and youth with similar communication skills can be an effective approach to substance abuse prevention.