When we talk about alcohol and drug education, we’re not just thinking about what happens within the classroom. We support educators in schools, SEN and PRU settings, colleges and universities, custodial settings and community groups.
The school’s role in prevention is much broader than alcohol and drug education lessons. Research tells us that the links between educational detachment and the use of alcohol and drugs at an early age are very clear: a young person’s attachment to school is a powerful protective factor which makes them resilient against substance misuse. This is strengthened by a positive and supportive school ethos, as well as the provision of quality PSHE education. Schools are also well placed to intervene early if a young person’s alcohol or drug use is causing problems.
As well as their schools and homes, young people’s communities play an important role in building their resilience and preventing substance misuse. Practitioners working in alcohol and drug education and prevention can benefit from the evidence base we have built as well as the free resources available from ADEPIS.
Good alcohol and drug education
Mentor believes all children and young people have the right to good alcohol and drug education as part of their PSHE education, and we are currently campaigning for PSHE to become a statutory entitlement in all schools.
Good alcohol and drug education is much more than giving young people factual information. Although that will certainly increase young people’s knowledge and understanding of alcohol and drugs, we know that information alone does very little to change behaviour.
To have an impact, alcohol and drug education must:
- enable young people to think about their personal attitudes and values which will underline their decisions about drug use,
- develop young people’s skills to manage the sort of situations they will face (for example making decisions, negotiating and communicating effectively) and to cope with stress or anxiety without resorting to alcohol or drugs, and
- challenge young people’s misconceptions of how normal and acceptable substance use is among their peers and among older teenagers
We know that this approach works because specific programmes that work in this way have been evaluated in randomised controlled trials and found to be effective at reducing use of alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs among young people.
The Alcohol and Drug Education and Prevention Information Service (ADEPIS)
The Alcohol and Drug Education and Prevention Information Service (ADEPIS) is a platform for sharing information and resources on alcohol and drug education and prevention for schools and practitioners.
Mentor-ADEPIS is publicly acknowledged as the leading source of evidence-based information and tools for alcohol and drug education and prevention. The resources we have already produced draw on eight years of work with the Drug Education Forum, which supported local authorities and schools to implement best practice in alcohol and drug education.
Our resources are free and suitable for both primary and secondary schools as well as practitioners working on alcohol and drug education and prevention in informal and community settings.
To access the ADEPIS resources visit mentor-adepis.org, where you can also sign up to our mailing list.
Quality standards for drug education
The Mentor-ADEPIS Quality Standards for Effective Alcohol and Drug Education were developed using existing national and international guidance as well as examples of good practice in alcohol and drug education and prevention.
The aims of the Quality Standards are:
- to help schools and others assess their own practice, in and outside the classroom, and make the case for appropriate support and resources,
- to help external providers of drug education assess their own practice and convey their aims, methodology, and approach to schools, and
- to help schools have clearer expectations of external contributors, choose those that deliver to a high standard, and work more effectively with them.
Toolkit for schools: review your drugs policy
This resource aims to help schools with the process of reviewing their drug and alcohol policy, with practical advice on consulting with teachers, pupils, parents and others in the community. It can be used by primary and secondary schools & pupil referral units, and should also be helpful for colleges.