Monday, April 26, 2010

Sue Scheff: The Cool Spot - Helping With Peer Pressure Against Substance Abuse

Info for Parents and Teachers

The Cool Spot was created for kids 11-13 years old by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). The NIAAA is the lead U.S. agency supporting research into the causes, prevention, and treatment of alcohol problems. It is a component of the National Institutes of Health, within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The content of The Cool Spot is based on a curriculum for grades 6-8 developed by the University of Michigan. The curriculum was created for the Alcohol Misuse Prevention Study (AMPS), a large-scale project supported by NIAAA.

One goal of AMPS was to give young teens a clearer picture about alcohol use among their peers. Teens tend to overestimate how much kids their age really drink. When they learn more accurate information, some of the pressure to drink can subside. Other goals of AMPS were to help kids learn skills to resist pressure to drink and to give them reasons not to drink. The Cool Spot incorporates AMPS goals in these and other features:

  • Reality Check quizzes kids about how much drinking is really going on in the U.S. The answers, which often surprise kids and adults alike, are based on results of the 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
  • Deep Digging is a simple but powerful page that depicts why using alcohol as a solution to problems, or a way of trying to cope, is trouble.
  • Peer Pressure Bag of Tricks presents animated scenes that invite kids to identify some common peer pressure “tricks.” It also lets kids know that spotting these tricks is the first step to resisting them.
  • Know your No’s is an activity that introduces kids to a variety of ways to say no, and helps them learn which one is the most effective.
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