UII implements a substance abuse prevention curriculum developed by the SPARK Training Institute, in New York. It is designed for delivery to age appropriateness and provides students with a basic understanding of chemical dependency. The focus is on acquiring the skills and knowledge necessary for making healthy lifestyle choices. An instructor acquaints students with school and community resources and disseminates printed materials consistent with the lessons.
The curriculum is designed to enhance the student's natural ability and desire to help others. Social skills such as problem solving, refusal skills and assertiveness are taught to the peer helpers to improve their technique. Communication skills are emphasized and nonjudgmental behavior are practiced in order to improve the students' ability to effectively help their fellow students.
The lessons contained in the drug prevention curriculum were developed after conducting an extensive review of the literature detailing the current thinking on effective drug prevention using the curricular approach. (Perry and Murray, 1985; Durell and Bukowsi, 1984)
The five lessons are based on the social competencies model (Botvin, et al, 1984), which has been effective in reducing levels of tobacco, marijuana and excessive alcohol use amongst teenagers.
The educational approach favored in drug prevention is based upon andragogical principles (Knowles, 1980), which differ from traditional pedagogy in significant ways. The underlying assumptions of andragogy, which can be applied to teaching drug prevention to adolescents, include:
Focusing on the immediate application of the material presented
Assuming a readiness to learn based on adolescent developmental task, such as separation/individuation and the adoption of adult roles, and
An understanding that the learner brings with him/her a body of experience, which relates to and affects the learning.
The goal is to teach young people the basic social skills necessary for living a healthy life. This includes decision making as applied to high risk situations relevant to their life experience, stress management techniques and communication skills in dealing with peers and asking for help. In addition, important cognitive components are included on the immediate short terms effects of the drugs adolescents are most likely to encounter, and the effects of chemical dependency in families.