Sunday, April 24, 2011


UNPLUGGED is a school-based drug prevention curriculum based on the comprehensive social influence approach. It was developed, implemented and evaluated within a multi-centre-study in seven European countries: Belgium, Germany, Spain, Greece, Italy, Austria,and Sweden. It has integrated as much as possible evidence-based effective components.
For the development of UNPLUGGED the results of prior research was taken into account. The main characteristics of the UNPLUGGED-curriculum are:
• The programme is based on the Comprehensive Social Influence Model, being interactive, integrating lifeskills elements and normative beliefs.
• The target groups are adolescents aged 12-14 years, because this is the age when adolescents may start to experiment with drugs (particularly smoking, alcohol or cannabis).
• The contents of the programme are dedicated to decrease drug initiation and/or to delay the transition from experimental to regular drug consumption.
• The programme consists of 12 units, which are designed to be carried out during school time based on recommendations that showed programmes with less than ten units had smaller effects than programmes with an average length of fifteen units.
• The substances addressed are tobacco, alcohol, cannabis in particular, and in addition other drugs.
• The initial UNPLUGGED programme contained a peer component, involving selected students to support and supervise the classroom activities. This specific component was however very poorly implemented and when implemented did not significantly influence the
effectiveness. For those reasons the peer component is not included in the revised version of UNPLUGGED. The potential role of peers in school-based substance
use education has however been identified by many literature reviews. But we should not only consider a peer programme of trained peer leaders facilitating a classroom of same age or younger peers, but also peer interaction among class members.
• The programme contains a parent component, aiming UNPLUGGED is a school-based drug prevention programme for adolescents between 1 and 14 years of age and is based on the cognitive social influence model. The innovative aspects of UNPLUGGED is that it has been developed in a cooperation of seven EU-countries known as the EU-Dap project and evaluated for effectiveness during an earlier phase. What is the basis for this new European prevention programme? to provide the students’ parents with educational tools supporting school prevention by way of meetings. Parents in general lack basic knowledge about drugs but also confidence about their attitude towards drug use. Although the EU-Dap study did not find specific influence of the parent component on the effectiveness of the pupils behaviour, we integrate the parent meeting scenarios in the programme materials. They are a substantial part of an integrated and structured approach of the school in a health education policy.
The parent meetings which are an addendum to the UNPLUGGED programme contain:
- general parenting skills that will strengthen family relationships and parents’ ability to deal with cohesion, caring, control, and conflict resolution
- substance-related skills that will increase parents’ knowledge about drugs and help them communicate to their children appropriate attitudes and models of behaviour with regard to drugs
- skills that support people’s self-confidence as parents.
• Teachers receive specific training prior to the implementation of the programme. Teachers’ training is a crucial component to ensure a high quality implementation of the method and contents of programmes.

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