U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Schools and the Community Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Environment

NCJ Number
Date Published
6 pages
This paper argues for change in community policies, norms, and attitudes toward youths' consumption of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs (ATOD) as the key to successful school-based ATOD prevention programs.
The paper has three major sections. The first section discusses the importance of community institutions generally and school specifically in developing and implementing environmental strategies of substance-abuse prevention. This section recommends that schools, government, employers, social services agencies, churches and other community institutions be encouraged and guided to prevent ATOD use among youth. The paper's second major section examines the potential role of schools in implementing specific policies for change in ATOD-related behaviors among youth, focusing on the environments that directly affect schools and students. As the institution most likely to be exposed to youths' ATOD problems, schools can provide the most insight into the impact of environmental factors on youth. Schools also have credibility and expertise in interactions among youth and between youth and their environment. In addition, schools can provide leadership in promoting change in the community environment in the interest of preventing ATOD use among youth. The third section of the paper outlines the roles school boards, administration, faculty, parents, and students can play in implementing a comprehensive ATOD prevention program that encompasses both the school and community environments that influence youths' behavior.