Neptune Township Improves High School Adolescent Alcohol & Drug Use Social Norms & Perceived Harmfulness

The one-session evidence-based SPORT Prevention Plus Wellness program was implemented to high school adolescents in 9th grade health classes by the Neptune Township Municipal Alliance in Neptune, NJ. 

Callie P., a Student Assistance Counselor, provided the program to 107 students at Neptune High School during January 2022.  

Most participants were female (54%) and were either 14 (58%) or 15 (40%) years old. 

Pretest to posttest survey results are shown below. 

Social Norms 

There were reductions in the perceived use of four substances by peers (descriptive norms) from pretest to posttest. 

  • There was a 9% reduction in the belief that most people your age currently drink alcohol. 
  • There was a 7% decline in the belief that most people your age currently smoke cigarettes. 
  • There was an 11% decrease in the belief that most people your age currently use marijuana. 
  • Lastly, there was an 11% reduction in the belief that most people your age vape e-cigarettes. 

Perceived Harmfulness 

Perceptions of harmfulness increased from pretest to posttest for three substances.  

  • There was a 17% increase in the perception that using alcohol regularly would harm your health or healthy behaviors a lot to a great deal. 
  • There was also a 14% increase in the perception that regularly using marijuana would be harmful a lot to a great deal. 
  • Finally, there was a 5% increase in the perception that smoking cigarettes would be harmful a great deal. 

Behavioral Intentions 

Intentions to engage in two healthy behaviors increased while intentions to use marijuana use decreased from pretest to posttest.  

  • There was a 6% increase in intentions to eat mostly healthy foods most days a week during the next year. 
  • In addition, there was a 9% increase in intentions to practice a stress control or relaxation technique most days a week during the next year. 
  • Results also indicated a 6% increase in being unlikely to very unlikely to try any marijuana in the next year. 

What Participant’s Liked 

Most youth responded they liked participating in the SPORT PPW programs.  Below are some comments students wrote after attending the program. 

  • I liked that we got to discuss the valuable thinks to keep our bodies active and stuff to stay away from that can damage it.
  • Now I know what to do in case of being stressed or how to live a healthy life.
  • Taught me how to take care of my body more by eating breakfast and working out and staying active and how drugs can really ruin your body.
  • It motivated me to stay healthy.
  • It was cool.
  • I was taught ways of how to feel better about myself.
  • I liked how we learned how many hours of sleep to get.
  • It helped me understand the huge impact that drug use and alcohol use had in your mental and physical health. 

Conclusion 

Congratulations to the Neptune Township Municipal Alliance for successfully implementing the SPORT Prevention Plus Wellness program to high school adolescents in their community. 

Their efforts resulted in correcting normative beliefs that overestimate how many peers use alcohol and drugs, as well as increasing perceived harmfulness of alcohol and drug use which is associated with less likelihood of using these substances in the future.  

Student comments after receiving the SPORT PPW program supported the quantitative data and emphasized positive outcomes regarding improved motivation to stay healthy, engagement in protective fitness and health behaviors and avoidance of alcohol and drug use. 

We wish to thank Callie P. and everyone at the Neptune Township Municipal Alliance for their outstanding efforts toward improving the physical and mental health of youth in their region.

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