6 May 2020 | Press

May 6, 2020 —COVID-19 and opioid addiction are considered the two great epidemics of our generation, and they are now intersecting in additively deadly ways. The need for adolescent substance use prevention has never been greater.

Students from our Living the Example program in Anne Arundel CountyToday, the JMIR mHealth uHealth published the most recent evaluation from the LTE program, conducted by the George Washington University. The study found strong indicators that the LTE program appears to offer a protective effect, with exposure to program messages leading to reduced drug use intentions. The recent evaluation also indicates that the LTE program had an even stronger impact on students’ intentions to use substances and past 30-day reported substance use compared to the 2017 published study (Evans et al.).

We found higher levels of exposure to LTE messages were associated with reduced 30-day drug use intentions. Over time, greater exposure to LTE messaging led to lesser drug use intentions at the end of the school year.

Lead investigator, Dr. Evans, a Professor of Prevention and Community Health & Global Health at the George Washington Milken Institute School of Public Health

Dr. Evans has published over 150 peer-reviewed journal articles, books and chapters on health communication, social marketing, and digital media behavior change interventions.

The LTE program is currently active in select Anne Arundel County High Schools, with over 80 Youth Ambassadors working through social media and within their schools to address and prevent substance use in their communities. Mentor Foundation USA aims to bring this program to more communities in need across the US in the near future.

Adolescent substance use is among the greatest public health threats in this country and remains at unacceptably high levels. The LTE program continues to provide us with positive indicators that social media, especially through peer-to-peer messaging, is a promising strategy for prevention, and perhaps more relevant now than ever due to the impact of COVID-19.

Michaela Pratt, President & CEO of Mentor Foundation USA.

This program was made possible by the generous support from: Anne Arundel County Department of Health; Conrad N. Hilton Foundation; Second Genesis Foundation; and with the coordination and collaboration efforts from Anne Arundel County Public Schools.

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Mentor Foundation USA is a national member of Mentor International, founded in 1994 by Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden and with members of the World Health Organization.  Mentor is today the largest network of its kind for evidence-based programs that prevent substance use among youth. Collectively, Mentor has implemented projects in over 80 countries, impacting more than 6 million youth.