Following are best practice statements arising from a review of the scientific literature evaluating junior high school drug education conducted to support the development of this supplement. For the full literature review, visit http://www.gov.ns.ca/hpp/addictionprevention.html.

Best Practice 1: Drug education needs to be age and developmentally appropriate, to focus on risk and protective factors, and to address local substance-use patterns.

Best Practice 2: Key features of the provincial and, where possible, the local situation should be compiled and analysed through formative research at the program design stage.

Best Practice 3: Address only those substances for which there is a pattern of use in a population.

Best Practice 4: Units that focus on a single drug appear more effective after 14 years of age than units that address a number of substances.

Best Practice 5: Focus on short-term, preferably social consequences, rather than long-term effects when providing drug-specific information.

Best Practice 6: Ensure that information is accurate and balanced, acknowledges the benefits that users perceive from their use, and highlights the fundamental relationship between the user, the substance, and the context of use.

Best Practice 7: Drug education programs need to give priority to behavioural, rather than knowledge or attitudinal, outcomes.

Best Practice 8: Accurate and balanced information is important, and it needs to take the form of “utility knowledge,” which helps students build relevant and useful skills.

Best Practice 9: Sessions need to emphasize “student-to-student” rather than “student-to-teacher” interactivity, employing role-plays, Socratic questioning, simulations, service-learning projects, brainstorming, co-operative learning, and peer-to-peer discussion. Teachers need to establish an open, non-judgmental atmosphere in order to effectively process these activities.

Best practice 10: Social influences programming can be effective. It can create a greater awareness of media and social influences and help students develop skills to analyse and minimize their impact.

Best Practice 11: Normative programming, highlighting the percentage of students not using, and correcting misperceptions, can be effective, particularly in the early junior high years.

Best Practice 12: Adding general competency enhancement, or life skills training, (e.g., developing skills such as communication, assertiveness, goal orientation, decision making, and stress management) may strengthen program effects when it is tied to drug-related situations or scenarios.

Best Practice 13: At, or just prior to, the point where significant numbers of students are using a particular substance (e.g., greater than 40 percent have used in past year), provide messages that promote safety and ways for minimizing harm within an overall message emphasizing abstinence as the safest option.

Best Practice 14: To sustain behavioural effects, drug education needs to provide adequate coverage from year to year, with approximately 10 sessions per year. If this cannot be achieved, 3–5 booster sessions per year following an initial 10-session module can be effective.

Best Practice 15: All in all, teachers who have been trained in interactive instructional methods are best able to deliver a drug education program as intended.

Best Practice 16: Guest presenters invited to deliver a drug education session need to be able to address curricular goals and work interactively with the students, rather than present an isolated session unconnected with the curriculum.