A conference in Vernon this past weekend heard more about a unique program underway in Vernon schools directed at children in Grade 8.
It’s called Preventure, a substance abuse prevention program dealing with alcohol and drugs.
Vernon School District Substance Abuse Counsellor Doug Rogers says it looks at anxiety, sensation seeking, hopelessness and impulsiveness.
” It provides two 90 minute workshops which is strength-based and it helps the kids deal with things like anxiety, worried about the future, and we know if we deal with that core issue then kids don’t use drugs and alcohol to self-medicate.”
Those workshops include methods children can use to deal with their worries.
“So you can plan and organize and so on. So those are the things you do with anxious kids that I do every day with anxious kids. And then you allow them some time to worry about it and then by organizing and planning you don’t worry so much about it and it lowers the level of anxiety.”
UBC Okanagan Psychology professor Dr. Marvin Krank is helping counsellors with the program.
” Let me be clear, one of the biggest focuses on this program is on changing drinking behaviour. What we see is between grades 8, 9, 10 and 11- that’s where you get the most rapid increase in alcohol use as well the development of binge drinking.”
Which Dr Krank says is the biggest problem today in schools when it comes to drug and alcohol use.
Dr. Krank is helping to analyze data from the program and says it’s not about saying No to drugs.
” How to deal with risky situations that might arise, but all sorts of things from personal interactions with friends to making a decision to make a risky choice.”
Most important, it’s a non-judgemental positive approach.
” So it works with the kids, not at the kids. It’s very much an interactive program based on the best known evidence now how to approach positive change.”
Doug Ross says the program has been successful in other countries
” What they saw there is reduce in alcohol use, they delayed the onset of use of drugs and alcohol, they lowered the likelihood of event starting, they lowered the frequency of kids already using.”
The school district is hoping to continue the program for five years.
Vernon is the only school district in the province using the program and is made possible by assistance from the Local Action Team and the Provincial Collaborative of Doctors of BC.