The purpose of this systematic review was to determine if school-based marijuana and alcohol prevention programs are effective in preventing marijuana and alcohol use in adolescents between the ages of 10-15 years. In particular, we examined knowledge versus comprehensive type prevention programs in order to better understand the inconsistency of results in school-based marijuana and alcohol prevention programs found in the literature.
We performed a systematic literature review to identify published or unpublished papers between January 01, 1980 and December 02, 2007 that reviewed the long-term effectiveness (I year or longer) of school-based marijuana and alcohol primary prevention programs targeting adolescents aged 10-15 years.
Long-term marijuana and alcohol prevention programs that utilized a "comprehensive" program content resulted in: (a) a mean absolute reduction of 12 days of alcohol usage per month and (b) a mean absolute reduction of 7 days of marijuana usage per month among adolescents aged 10-15 years old. In comparison, school-based marijuana and alcohol prevention programs that utilized "knowledge only" program content resulted in a mean absolute decrease of 2 days of alcohol usage per month among adolescents aged 10-15 years old. Only one study used knowledge-based content and marijuana use as an outcome measure and as such statistical pooling was not possible.
The most effective primary prevention programs for reducing marijuana and alcohol use among adolescents aged 10-15 years in the long-term were comprehensive programs that included anti-drug information combined with refusal skills, self-management skills and social-skills training.
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