Preventing and Treating Tobacco, Alcohol, Illegal Drug Use, and Related Problems

ORI’s work in this area dates from research funding obtained in the late 1970’s to study tobacco use in young people. Since then, research interests have broadened to include research on the prevention of alcohol and other drug use among youth. Two important ORI longitudinal studies – one on peer and family influences on youth drug use, and the other on young children’s knowledge of and intent to use alcohol and drugs -- have provided valuable guidance in the development of substance abuse prevention programs.

Current Research

Treating Substance Abuse and Related Problems

Researchers at ORI's Centers for Family and Adolescent Research (CFAR) in Portland, Oregon and in Albuquerque, New Mexico are studying the effectiveness of different treatment approaches for teens diagnosed with alcohol or other substance abuse disorders. The programs range from group or individual based cognitive behavior therapy to family-based interventions. By demonstrating the effectiveness of particular family and cognitive behavioral interventions, ORI's research findings contribute to the development and widespread use of effective treatments for adolescent substance use and abuse.

Understanding and Preventing Substance Use

For the past fifteen years, ORI researchers have been studying the same group of local children (now young adults) to investigate the risk and protective factors associated with the development of substance use. This study provides a unique picture of the trajectory of substance use as children develop from elementary school through adolescence and into emerging adulthood. Results suggest that drug prevention efforts should target the elementary and early middle school years, so as to change social images, intentions and willingness to use substances prior to experimentation.

Reducing or Eliminating Tobacco Use

ORI scientists are internationally recognized for their pioneering studies of tobacco use and its prevention and cessation. ORI scientists have conducted ground-breaking work in both smoking and smokeless (spit) tobacco cessation. ORI researchers were the first to use the principles of behavior change in studying tobacco prevention and cessation, and have made significant contributions to Institute of Medicine and U.S. Surgeon General's reports on smoking.