Preventing Substance Use in Middle School

Categories: New Grant Award

Type: News

Date Published: 09/10/2015

A key factor contributing to substance use in adolescence is peer rejection: socially isolated or rejected youth form their own groups and reinforce substance use and other problem behaviors. ORI scientist Mark Van Ryzin, Ph.D., has received research funding to explore ways to prevent this. The three-year grant, funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, funds Van Ryzin and his team to evaluate a multi-tiered approach to substance use prevention (i.e., cooperative learning, service projects, and behavioral reinforcement) among middle schoolers. The approach should promote gains in prosocial, positive behavior while also interrupting the formation of deviant peer clusters. This strategy should be simpler to implement as compared to existing prevention programs, less costly, and more flexible and sustainable over time, potentially creating a broad, organically driven, positive impact on adolescent health.