Young adolescents (ages 10-14) comprise an age group considerably at risk for drug abuse, including alcohol and tobacco. Prevention programs, are seldom targeted for high risk young teens. This research seeks to answer two critical questions in the field of drug abuse prevention. First, how can an individual adolescent's relative risk for either initiating drug use or becoming a drug user be assessed? Second, can a computer-based drug prevention system that relies on risk assessment to channel adolescents to the most appropriate information, skills training and decision supports, be effective in preventing drug abuse in high risk young adolescents? In developing a risk assessment tool, a mathematical model based on Bayes Theorem will be developed. The items in the Substance Abuse Risk Assessment (SARA) will be strongly influenced by the Jessor and Jessor Problem Behavior Model. Panels of experts (using a methodology we have employed in developing other risk indices) will refine the items in the Jessor's model in light of their experience and current empirical knowledge. The SARA will be programmed on a microcomputer which allows for speedy and accurate risk calculations and has proven to be an attractive medium for the target population. In earlier research, the investigators designed a computer-based health promotion system (The Body Awareness Resource Network BARN) for adolescents and their families. The system includes information on drugs, including alcohol and tobacco as well as related issues such as: stress, family communications, human sexuality, etc.. BARN has been successful in attracting high risk teens and in delaying onset of risk behavior, particularly among young adolescents. This research proposes to build on the BARN system by adding the SARA. The SARA would direct users, based on their scores, to appropriate sections of the BARN system. The predictive power of the SARA and the impact of the SARA/BARN system will be evaluated in several ways including an experiment with young adolescents from 120 high risk families. Families will be randomly assigned to control or experimental groups. The experimental group will have the SARA/BARN system in their homes for 3 months. All family members will be tested prior to and following the installation, and again 1 year and 2 years later.
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