Dr. Penka Kozhuharova, Assoc. Prof.
Episkop Konstantin Preslavski Shumen University
Abstract. The aim of the study is to explore the trends in the alcohol and drug abuse among students from 5-th to 7-th grade and, subsequently, to define problematic areas as well as the appropriate interventions for the implementation of a prevention school-based program in this setting. The program builds on an on-going threeyear prevention among teenagers. It is run by a team of teachers, experts and young volunteers. The structure and the aspects of the program are presented. In 2017, the study was conducted by using standardized questionnaires and an intervention in a group of 1,396 7-th grade students from 36 schools in the South-Еastern Region of Bulgaria. Their results have been compared with a control group of 7-th grade students. The selected indicators for the assessment of the tobacco and alcohol abuse were: frequency of use, age at first alcohol or tobacco use, use patterns, and sexual development. Furthermore, risk factors as well as protective factors associated with the peers groups and family environment have been studied. Pedagogical aspects in the implementation of the school-based program were addressed by the awareness and attitudes of students towards drug abuse, a dedicated curriculum, methods and forms of preventive action. In conclusion, the established program managed to: reduce the proportion of students who smoke occasionally; delay the first tobacco use; decrease the rates of tobacco use when meeting peers. Although there was no significant overall difference between the two groups in the frequency of alcohol use, the frequency of alcohol abuse at parties decreased significantly; a higher proportion of students in the intervention group claimed not having friends who have ever tried drugs.
Keywords: health education; school-based prevention of drug use; legislation; teachers; students; risk factors; protective factors
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