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Editor's e-Note
Most of the news about addiction is not good, so it’s refreshing to highlight an intervention that’s working. This month’s E-News Exclusive reports on a substance use prevention program that has shown success through engaging young people in local coalitions that implement policies and programs that best address their communities’ needs.

Since 2003, the project has tracked this strategy’s effectiveness by measuring experiences and behaviors among a sample of about 4,500 fifth-grade students living in 24 small- to moderate-size towns.

The initiative resulted in significantly fewer teens fighting, stealing, or engaging in illegal activities while under the influence. The study found that youths who don’t try alcohol until after the age of 18 are much less likely to become addicted, and those who refrain from smoking or crime before age 18 are unlikely to start later on—and that’s some good news.

We welcome your comments at Visit our website at, join our Facebook page, and follow us on Twitter.

— Marianne Mallon, editor
e-News Exclusive
Communities Reduce Teen Smoking, Drinking, Violence

Fewer U.S. high school students started drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, committing crimes, and engaging in violence before graduation when their towns used the Communities That Care prevention system during the teens’ middle school years. A University of Washington study found that the positive influence of this community-led system was sustained through high school.

“These towns are safer now because there are significantly fewer teens fighting, stealing, or doing things under the influence that they’d regret later,” says J. David Hawkins, PhD, lead study author and founding director of the Social Development Research Group, which is affiliated with the University of Washington School of Social Work.

The results also suggest that teens who grow up in Communities That Care towns will go on to have healthier lives. “Kids who don’t try alcohol until after age 18 are much less likely to become addicted,” Hawkins says. And “kids who refrain from smoking or crime before age 18 are very unlikely to start either later.”

Communities That Care was developed by Hawkins and study coauthor Richard Catalano, PhD, director of the Social Development Research Group. The prevention system is led by a coalition of diverse stakeholders in each community who use surveys of young people to identify risk factors that are widespread in the town and protective factors that need strengthening. Choosing from a list of prevention approaches proven to work, the local coalitions implement policies and programs that best address their communities’ needs.

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