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Research & Policy

Communicating about alcohol and other drugs: Strategies for reaching populations at risk
Elaine Bratic Arkin and Judith E. Funkhouser, Editors

This comprehensive book discusses how to design a successful communications program for the prevention of ATOD abuse targeting a range of audiences: children of alcoholics, African-American and Hispanic youth, parents, and health care personnel. The authors contend that children in high-risk environments are often more knowledgeable about and accustomed to drugs than other children, and are often given responsibilities inappropriate to their age level. To prevent high-risk behavior, early intervention activities must deal with the social environment that fosters ATOD abuse. Specific populations at risk include children in low-income families, children of substance users, and children who have experienced child abuse.

The authors highlight the needs and experiences of African-American and Hispanic American children, asserting that support from all facets of society helps to reinforce anti-drug attitudes. Parents and the media are pivotal in reaching at-risk children. Planners should transmit messages about ATOD abuse through appropriate and proven sources and channels of communication. Intermediary groups such as community organizations, physicians, or local agencies can help get prevention messages to the public. Good communication strategies match the knowledge level, attitudes, and practices of the audience. The authors describe gaps in communication messages and materials for youths and their families most at risk for ATOD abuse, and offer strategies to reach them. CSAP guidelines for policy and programming of a communications project are included.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Office of Substance Abuse Prevention
Distributed by National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information
P.O. Box 2345
Rockville, MD 20847-2345
(800) 729-6686 or (301) 468-2600
TDD: (800) 487-4889
Fax: (301) 468-6433
(1992, 402 pp.; OSAP Prevention Monograph No. 5, Inventory No. BK170; free)


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Free To Grow is a national program supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation with direction and technical assistance provided by the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University.