EVIDENCE BASED PREVENTION
Know the Truth™ is a substance use prevention program geared toward high school and middle school youth in Minnesota. Our program utilizes evidence based principles broadly supported by a growing body of research, such as those prescribed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of National Drug Control Policy and National Institute on Drug Abuse. Our program operates under two assumptions as held by the NIDA.
Substance use and addiction are complex issues, unpredicted by any one factor. Genes, environment and age of first use are all likely contributors to the development of an addiction.
Prevention and early intervention work. Multiple studies have found that evidence based substance use prevention programs are both effective and cost effective.
These are the five stages of our program: Risk Assessment, Capacity, Planning, Implementation and Evaluation.
We start with an assessment of the risk levels of a student population and the resources available to that group through a collaborative and reciprocal process. Before every school presentation, we connect with educators about the behavioral problems they see in their school, and evaluate the potential risk and protective factors that may be the root cause of those problems. We evaluate the risks in each school by asking things like: What are the problems that students in the school are facing? What students are experiencing these issues? How often do these behavioral problems occur and where? We stay up-to-date on the trends in teenage substance use, by using resources such as local and state student surveys.
The Know the Truth™ program and team have the capacity for bringing large prevention efforts across communities all over Minnesota. We stay current on drug trends and prevention efforts to ensure that we are providing the best information and resources available to students and others in the community.
Our wide variety of community prevention resources create the opportunities needed to successfully conduct prevention education efforts for multiple audiences. These resources include extensive employee prevention training, presenter training, Ramsey County OPUS Coalition efforts, private and public funding, partnerships with county sheriffs and law enforcement, county attorney offices, public health officials, licensed chemical health counselors, and support from parents, school administrators and teachers.
Our education efforts don't end in the schools; we also offer community events throughout the year to build awareness, provide information, and to start conversations with parents, educators, community members and industry professionals to keep their communities safe and healthy.
Our planning efforts include prioritizing risk factors that students may be facing in a given school or community. By prioritizing topics such as gateway drugs, social pressures, and mental health issues, we're able to focus on the most significant or relevant factors that may lead to reduced likelihood of an individual experimenting with or using substances.
After prioritizing risk factors, we then design prevention interventions to address the needs of the students. We use evidence-based interventions with strong conceptual fit (i.e. those most likely to influence the identified risk factors,) and which are also practical, feasible and relevant to the population. Typically these are data-driven, leveraging real-life stories, local statistics, and age-appropriate language and colloquial references.
We engage teachers and other stakeholders to share our logic model, identify and discuss strategies for how to address resource and readiness gaps, agree to evaluation activities, and discuss how issues of cultural competence have and will be addressed during our presentations.
We implement our plan by mobilizing broad stakeholder support for our program, carrying-out our evidence-based presentations, and by closely monitoring our program's impact through student surveys, teacher surveys, and our 24/7 text hotline. In addition to our primary prevention presentations, we also offer specialized group support delivered through Youth Peer Support Services. This resource is on-site each week in specific schools to provide additional support for students who have been identified (or who self-identify) as being at high risk for substance use, or have received a citation for substance use, or those who are impacted by a family members' substance use.
We are committed to evaluating and ensuring the effectiveness of our comprehensive prevention program and community efforts. We survey 100% of the students in each class presentation, continuously monitor our 24/7 text hotline, and also survey 100% of the teachers with whom we partner throughout each school year. In addition, we seek feedback from community partners and survey adults who attend our community education forums to gauge our effectiveness in building awareness, informing, and engaging them in the topic of teen substance use prevention.
With 15 school years of experience and evaluations, we have a solid base of data from which we can use to establish goals, identify measurable indicators, and determine expected outcomes to be certain we are achieving our objectives. We monitor our own trends from year to year to ensure our curriculum remains relevant and effective.
We are committed to continuous improvement and to seeking effective methods to quantify the positive impact that the Know the Truth™ program has on students. We also welcome recommendations from partner organizations and other external resources such as academic institutions and others in the prevention community.