Adolescent substance use and participation in out-of-school time interventions
MetadataShow full item record
Adolescent consumption of alcohol, marijuana and tobacco is a significant problem that affects youth of all demographic groups and can have lasting, damaging impacts into adulthood. Furthermore, it is a complicated issue, with many social and economic risk factors. The focal mediator for adolescent substance use, in this paper, is unsupervised time in the period immediately following school. Across the United States, millions of young people are left unsupervised between the hours of 3pm and 6pm, which elevates the risk for consumption of substances. For this reason, implementation of afterschool programming (ASP) to provide supervised and developmentally enriching activities for youth is a promising strategy for reducing substance use. Another reason for using ASPs to prevent substance use behavior is the theory of alternate reinforcers, which emphasizes the protective nature of alternative, substance free activities in reducing the motivation for consuming substances. There are many different models for afterschool programs, however the three models examined here are the Positive Youth Development (PYD), the Sequenced Active Focused Explicit (SAFE) model, and the Empowerment model. Each of these approaches emphasizes a different element of the afterschool setting, either philosophy, practices for delivery and specific program content, respectively; however, there are common features to all three. The goal of this study was to identify the strongest model for an afterschool program with the goal of reducing substance use among adolescents and to identify potential reasons for its success. Through an extensive review of literature on this topic, it became clear that there are strengths to each model, and each showed evidence for reductions in substance use behavior following program participation. The most effective ASP model, then, will likely be a combination of these three approaches. Continued research will be necessary to examine programs that combine strategies, and more resources are required to increase the scale of ASP to enhance their benefits.