Communities That Care program shows success in reducing substance use and behavioral issues in adolescents

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Image courtesy of CTC

A newly published study looking at long-term outcomes from the Communities That Care (CTC) program showed remarkable success in preventing substance use and antisocial behaviors in adolescents. The CTC is a prevention planning and implementation system that trains community coalition is to assess their community’s needs, then select and use evidence-based programs and policies to reduce risk factors and enhance protective factors.

The Community Youth Development Study, a community-randomized trial of the CTC system, examined the long-term behaviors of over 4,400 participants, followed from grade 5 through age 21 years to evaluate whether their involvement had long-term effects on substance use, antisocial behavior, and violence, compared to control communities.

Investigators found that CTC participation in adolescence increased the likelihood of sustained abstinence from alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana use by 49 percent and antisocial behavior (i.e., disruptive acts like stealing, hurting someone, damaging property) by 18 percent. It also reduced the lifetime incidence of violence by 11 percent through age 21 years.

Supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the authors did not find much difference in past-year substance use, antisocial behavior, and violence between the CTC and control communities. However, the findings are still consistent with the idea that the CTC system results in fewer adolescents initiating substance use and antisocial behaviors.

Note: The Communities that Care Program has evolved since its inception and is now called “Communities that Care Plus.”