|Drug Education: Programmes and Methodology - An Overview of Opportunities for Drug Prevention (EC - UNESCO, 1995, 41 p.)|
|III. Methods and techniques of drug education|
|Drug Education utilizing group methods and techniques|
There are many different kinds and types of group methods: methods and techniques that stress transfer of knowledge (lectures, classroom teaching), attitude change (discussion, role playing), development of social skills (training, modelling) or exploration and exchange of opinion (panel, forum). The best way to elaborate and illustrate group methods and techniques in drug education, is to refer to school drug education. The main arguments for choosing this formal educational context are:
- It is within formal education that most children and young people can be reached for preventive education;
- School settings have a clear organisational structure, with opportunities to develop links with parents, community groups, etc;
- School settings are, in spite of many cultural and societal differences, present in all countries and regions in the world;
- Most drug educational experiences have been acquired within a formal education context during the past 30 years;
- Many different school drug education methods can also be applied to other group and community settings; in most cases only a few adaptations have to be made;
- Most experimentation with drug use starts during school when children are between 14-18 years old.
For a long time, health and drug information education was a popular first choice strategy in prevention and it is still a commonly used method. The underlying assumption is that the presentation of factual information about drugs and the biological, social and psychological effects, the risks and dangers of drug use and its consequences, would have a sufficient preventive impact. Knowing the facts would lead directly to staying off drugs. In this model, besides techniques of fear arousal, often applied to increase the salience and impact of the message: "Drugs are a dead end" and "Using is losing" rather moderate techniques are often also used. The British "High Profile Curriculum" (19) is an example of such a low profile cognitive oriented drug education programme.
19) High Profile Youth Work Curriculum and Consultation Materials about Drugs. ISDD London. 1988
This model was developed in the seventies and presents a rather different model of drug education where drug information plays only a minor role. The affective education model is based on the assumption that drug abuse has its main cause in the shortcomings of young personalities low self-esteem, inability to make rational decisions and express feelings and inadequate problem-solving skills. Therefore, the main goal of prevention should be enhancing self-esteem, improvement of decision-making and problem solving skills. This model IS largely rooted in the principles of humanistic psychology, the expectation being that once a young person has solved his or her basic interpersonal problems, the risk of involvement in drug abuse will be much lower. The Californian School and Community Prevention Programme '20) is a very recent example of a drug prevention programme developed according to these principles.
20) Towards a State of Esteem. Final Report of the Californian Task Force to Promote Self Esteem. Cal. State Department of Education, Sacramento, USA. 1990
This approach is based on Bandura's Social Learning Theory which focuses on the notion that behaviour is the result of positive or negative influences. Individuals in the social environment, like parents and peers, and exposure to the media often serve as impact models, providing examples of adequate or inadequate behaviour. Prevention programmes designed within the framework of the social influence approach comprise elements such as influence resisting training (peer, media influences) innoculation against the impact of mass media (analyzing anti-health advertising), role playing, etc.
More recent is the model of reasoned action developed by Fishbein and Ajzen (21). The Dutch drug prevention programme "Talking about alcohol and drugs at school" '22) and the British programme "Facts and Feelings about Drugs, but Decisions about Situation" '23) are examples of educational programmes based on this approach.
21) Fishbein, M. & A. Ajzen. Belief, Attitude, Intention and Behaviour: an introduction to theory and research. Reading, Mass. Addison/Wesley. 1975
22) Buisman. W. R. & J. J. van Belois. Praten over Alcohol en Drugs op School ("Talking about Alcohol and Drugs at School"). Netherlands Institute of Alcohol and Drugs, Utrecht. 1990
23) Facts and Feelings about Drugs, but Decisions about Situation. Teachers manual. ISDD London. 1982
A most promising new approach is the life skills development model of prevention. Whilst, there is a conceptual similarity between the life skills model and the affective model, the former emphasizes balanced development of personal and social coping skills, which can be divided into five dimensions critically important for adolescent learning, thinking, feeling, decision making, communication and action. The model encompasses the improvement of positive peer influence, peer role models and peer teaching and includes teaching specific values, such as respect, compassion, responsibility, honesty and self-discipline. This programme attempts to link community groups and school groups (teachers, tutors, counselors, parents, board members), because of the belief that prevention and health education is the collective responsibility of the whole school and local community. The life skills approach is a challenging model, appropriate for both drug prevention and health promotion. The well-known "Skills for Adolescents" programme, originally developed in the USA '24), has now been culturally adapted and introduced in many countries, including inter alia, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, France, The Netherlands, Belgium and Sweden.
24) See Note. 11