The Role of Peers on School-Based Prevention Programs Targeting Adolescent Substance Use

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Purpose of Review: Peers play an important role in the initiation and progression of substance use during adolescence. Consideration of peer influences is therefore a necessary factor to be included in prevention programs that aim to delay onset or minimise substance use amongst young people. The aim of this review was to examine how peer influences have been addressed by modern school-based substance use prevention programs. Recent Findings: School-based interventions have addressed the role of peers in a variety of ways. These include designing programs based on social influence models, which target peer influence, peer pressure, and social norms, as well as including peers in the delivery of the intervention. More recently, informal peer-led interventions have been developed that utilise naturally occurring processes of information sharing between young people. Summary: Interventions that take a social influence approach, particularly those that are peer-led, appear to be an effective means of preventing adolescent substance use. Future research should continue to explore the benefits of informal peer-led programs, as well as developing secondary and tertiary programs that intervene to reduce risky use and promote help-seeking for existing substance-related problems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-385
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Addiction Reports
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


  • Adolescence
  • Peers
  • Prevention
  • School-based interventions
  • Substance use

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