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Effective Substance Use and Misuse Education with SEL and BASE Education

Effective Substance Use and Misuse Education with SEL and BASE Education

Did you know that BASE Education incorporates SEL into the substance use and misuse suite and is appropriate for all students, not just high-risk teens? So much of the traditional approach to educating about substance use and misuse focuses on the facts and do/don’ts, but research-based social-emotional learning (SEL) programs prevent substance use and misuse through the promotion of both personal and social skills. Combine that approach with drug and alcohol curricula that integrate SEL, and you’ll have a powerful prevention and intervention combination. Edmentum’s BASE Education substance use and misuse suite does just that.

How do we get there?

Elevating student voice to connect a student’s own story to learning is a powerful way to address substance abuse education, and giving students tools that build their own internal knowledge of themselves is essential. Search Institute calls that essential knowledge “internal assets,” which are the personal skills, commitments, and values students need to make good choices, take responsibility for their own lives, and become independent and fulfilled.

These internal assets neatly align with the CASEL 5 competencies, which address five areas of SEL competence: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. Building these internal assets can have a profound impact on alcohol, tobacco, and drug use.

Effective Substance Abuse Education with SEL and BASE Education

Cross-sectional and longitudianal research show that developmental assests play a powerful role in preventing alcohol, tobacco, and other drug (ATOD) use across diverse samples of youth (Figure A, Search Institute.)

So, what are assets?

Assets are either internal and external, and they are described as essentially resources that provide protective factors which help children avoid behaviors that place them at risk for adverse health and educational outcomes. Protective factors are individual or environmental characteristics, conditions, or behaviors that reduce the effects of stressful life events; increase an individual’s ability to avoid risks or hazards; and promote social and emotional competence to thrive in all aspects of life now and in the future. Assets can include things like:  

External: Support (family, community, and school), boundaries, empowerment, and constructive uses of time

Internal: Motivation engagement; positive values like honesty, caring and responsibility; social competencies like decision making and conflict resolution; positive identity such as a sense of power over one’s life, an understanding of oneself, a positive view of one’s own strengths, and a view of potential for one’s future  

Strong SEL curriculum like BASE Education—Edmentum’s partnered, CASEL-designated courses for grades 1–12, can support the building of these internal assets, igniting growth of protective factors. Here are some specific protective factors as noted by the Committee for Children.   

The risk of substance use and misuse decreases when adolescents:  

  • Regulate emotions and develop healthy coping skills
  • Use social skills to develop positive friendships and healthy relationships
  • Possess effective refusal skills for saying no and still maintaining friendships
  • Empathize and self-regulate
  • Exercise assertiveness and problem-solve in stressful situations
  • Develop positive normative perceptions against substance use
  • Form stronger ties to school, thereby increasing connectedness

To see how SEL education positively impacts students and lowers risk for issues like substance use, let’s look at a CASEL meta-analysis in 2017 that examined positive youth development through school-based SEL interventions. The study analyzed results from 82 different interventions involving more than 97,000 students from kindergarten to high school, and the effects were assessed six months to 18 years after the programs ended. 

At follow-up periods, conduct problems, emotional distress, and drug use were all significantly lower for students exposed to SEL programs, and development of social and emotional skills and positive attitudes toward self, others, and school was higher. 

What do you get with BASE Education? 

Edmentum offers 39 BASE Education substance use and misuse courses that relate directly to drug and alcohol education, with pre-course and post-course knowledge tests and groupings that examine the impact of drugs on the body, mind, and mood; drugs and relationship responsibilities; and courses where students reflect on their own story and planning in a way specifically focused on the CASEL 5 competencies. Additional courses on SEL root skills can also be applied to avoiding substance use and misuse, including Self-Esteem, Vision of Self, and Motivation. They can help support building internal assets that we know reduce the risk of substance use and misuse. 

Effective Substance Abuse Education with SEL and BASE Education

BASE Education, a CASEL-designated, evidence-based, and clinically designed SEL curriculum, has a substance use and misuse suite that follows the best practices of research and experience, giving schools and students what they need to engage in meaningful learning driven by student voice and reflective skill building. To learn more and see our complete course offerings, view Edmentum’s BASE Education course catalog.

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Jen Perry

Jen Perry currently serves as the Director, Whole Learning and SEL at Edmentum. Jen joined Edmentum as the Learning Designer for Social-Emotional Learning after 30+ years of work with youth in educational and community settings. As a teacher, administrator, and trainer, her passion has been to help educators develop an understanding of the importance of social and emotional learning and build trauma-informed responses and systems. This work has included supporting youth, administrators, and schools in understanding behavior and implementing transformational change through strength-based approaches.