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Implementation and Evaluation of Substance Abuse Prevention Programs in Culturally Diverse Communities: An Introduction

In the past decade, concern over drug and alcohol abuse among children and adolescents has led to funding of research into the etiology and prevention ofsubstance abuse. Approaches to prevention have multiplied, reflecting a range of theories. These attribute the problem variously to individual factors (genetic, emotional , knowledge, attitude, etc.) and environmental factors in the family, school, peer group, conununity, economic system and society at large (Hawkins, Catalano & Miller 1992; De long, 1995). In 1987, the Office for Substance Abuse Prevention (OSAP, later CSAP), funded 130 demonstration programs for the prevention of substance abuse among high risk youth. The first of the articles in this issue describes one of these first generation projects, Friendly PEERsuasions". This program implemented and rigorously evaluated a configuration of individually-focused interventions for African American, female adolescents. The program faced a number of the challenges to research methodology described by Moskowitz (1993), including small sample size and problems with fidelity of intervention implementation at replication sites. Despite these limitations, the program produced some intriguing preliminary results indicating the importance of developmental timing of interventions.