Program Evaluation

Because community antidrug programs are new, the media have been the main source of information about their activities; however, a handful of studies have been undertaken to explore the implementation and impact of community antidrug programs. Davis et al. (1991) examined the kinds of communities that have spawned antidrug efforts and the effects the programs have had on residents' perceptions of crime and disorder. Contrary to extant theories of community organizing—which suggest that resident programs against crime can only be mounted successfully in middle-class areas—the investigators found that antidrug initiatives were more common in low-income neighborhoods, even after taking into account the fact that such neighborhoods had more drug activity. In addition, the study looked closely at four of these initiatives. Residents in neighborhoods served by the programs reported lower fear of crime and greater neighborhood satisfaction than residents of comparable nearby areas without programs.

Rosenbaum and his colleagues studied the initiation of a national demonstration program called Community Responses to Drug Abuse (CRDA). Using federal funds, ten communities in nine U.S. cities implemented a variety of antidrug projects, including closing drug houses and creating drug-free zones. The researchers interviewed participants, observed program activities, and analyzed records at the ten sites. Rosenbaum et al. (1992) report that the local community organizations accomplished a great deal with limited funds. A crucial lesson learned by the organizations was that enforcement activities provide only a limited solution to the drug problem. The most effective strategies involved broader partnerships with other agencies and institutions, such as churches and schools.

Finally, the federal Community Partnership Demonstration Program, funded by the Office for Substance Abuse Prevention, provides assistance to more than 250 programs for the prevention of substance abuse and now the CENTER FOR SUBSTANCE Abuse Prevention (CSAP) allows local organizations considerable discretion to shape their own initiatives in combating drug and alcohol abuse.

A 48-community study of the Community Partnership Program, released in December, 1999 by CSAP, reported a statistically significant reduction in drug and alcohol use among males in partnership-communities. The study selected a representative sample of 24 communities from the 251 funded by CSAP and compared substance abuse rates to 24 non-partnership communities over a period of 18 months. The researchers collected surveys from 83,473 randomly selected adults, 10th graders, and 8th graders in the 48 communities. The study found that community partnerships can be effective in decreasing alcohol and illicit drug use in males, but were less effective in decreasing alcohol and illicit drug use among females. The study also found that adults reporting less illicit drug use were more likely to live in a partnership community, be involved in substance abuse prevention activities, and live in a neighborhood perceived to have minimal illicit drug trading.

(SEE ALSO: Crime and Drugs; Education and Prevention; Gangs and Drugs; Prevention Movement)


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