Drug prevention programmes help teens curb risky sex

April 30th, 2009 - 2:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, April 30 (IANS) School-based drug education programmes for teens also help curb risky sex, according to a new study.
Young adults exposed to a popular drug abuse prevention programme as adolescents were less likely to engage in risky sexual practices five to seven years later, according to researchers.

“The lessons these young people learned about how to avoid drug and alcohol abuse appears to have had a positive impact on their sexual behaviour as well,” said Phyllis Ellickson, study co-author and Rand researcher.

Risky sexual behaviour comprises engaging in sex with multiple partners or having unprotected sex because of drug and alcohol use.

However, researchers found that those who received drug prevention training were no more likely to use condoms consistently than their peers who did not receive the training.

The Rand Health study tracked the experiences of 1,901 unmarried 21-year-olds who took part in a randomized controlled trial of Project ALERT, a drug use prevention programme for middle school students.

Among the participants, 631 attended schools that received 14 Project ALERT lessons during middle school, 499 attended schools that received 10 additional lessons during high school and 771 attended schools that did not offer the Project ALERT program, said a Rand release.

Young adults exposed to Project ALERT were both less likely to have sex with multiple partners (44 percent versus 50 percent) and to have unprotected sex because of drug use (27 percent versus 32 percent) than their peers who had not been exposed to the programme.

These findings were published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

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