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Are your children prone to addiction? Watch for these important signs..


Teens

(NaturalNews) A new anti-drug program being tested in schools focuses on identifying teens with personality traits that make them more prone to addiction.

The Preventure program was developed by psychiatry professor Patricia Conrod from the University of Montreal, and takes into account four personality traits that create "pathways" to addiction.

The four traits that may predict addictive behavior

The four traits include: sensation-seeking, impulsiveness, anxiety sensitivity and hopelessness.

Conrod believes that these traits can be detected early enough to steer kids away from addiction. The therapy applies cognitive behavioral-based coping strategies for high risk kids, and early results seem to indicate that the program is effective.

Most children who experiment with drugs in their teens do not become addicted, but the ones who are prone to addiction tend to display at least one of the four traits and can benefit from early intervention, according to Conrod:

"What we try to do is work with schools or work with individuals or clinics and offer the program prior to the onset of any problems.

"What's really become quite fascinating through the research we've done on the program, is that by helping young people learn to manage those traits, they are protected against early onset substance use and a number of other health and behavioural problems."

The Preventure program, which has been tested in Australia, Britain and Canada, has reportedly reduced frequent drug use, binge-drinking and other alcohol-related problems.

Using mental health intervention principles that have been modified for children, the program first administers tests to identify high risk individuals among middle-school students and later in the school year conducts group sessions led by a school facilitator who has received training from Conrod's team.

The program avoids stigmatizing high risk teens – which could lead them towards a "self-fulfilling prophecy" scenario – but rather offers them strategies to deal with the challenges they face:

"They really are just coping skills workshops that young people use as they explore their own personality and character, and learn these traits to channel their own behaviours toward their long-term goals."

The four traits share some common elements, but there are important differences that can be taken into account when formulating intervention strategies.

Three of the traits the Preventure program focuses on – impulsiveness, hopelessness and anxiety sensitivity – are linked to mental health issues that can increase the risk of addiction. Impulsiveness is associated with A.D.H.D., hopelessness with depression, and anxiety sensitivity with panic disorder.

Sensation-seeking is not linked to a particular mental health issue diagnosis, but it's a trait that can lead to addictive behavior.

How the Preventure program works

The Preventure program employs some slightly devious methods to attract the participation of high risk kids. After a crash course in therapy techniques is given to teachers, a test is administered to middle-school students to identify high risk individuals.

A few months later, two 90-minute workshops are offered to students. The workshops are presented as providing tools for grooming one's personality toward success, and with only a limited number of students being able to participate based on random selection.

Unbeknownst to the students who apply for the workshops – and most do apply – only those whose earlier tests revealed high risk traits are actually selected to attend.

These students are assigned to one or the other workshop based on which trait is to be targeted. The teens are not told why they were selected, but if they ask they are told the truth. Conrod said that most do not ask, and most reported that the cognitive behavioral techniques they were taught were "relevant and useful."

The early success of the program suggests that a deeper understanding of the personality traits that may lead to addiction is helpful for developing an intervention approach that actually works, compared to the "Just Say No" model.

Sources:

CTVNews.ca

NYTimes.com

Co-Venture.ca

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