Research from a program at the University of Florida has shown success in assisting youth in avoiding drugs & alcohol. The 4-H Youth Development Program of The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has a new program called Health Rocks! that helps students in middle school learn life skills. Extension agents of UF/IFAS are working with faculty and the National 4-H Council to train educators and volunteers who will then teach the kids.

Results have shown the kids have a better understanding and knowledge about the consequences of drugs and alcohol use, and the program has helped develop new healthy attitudes to keep them from using drugs and alcohol.

In an effort to promote better health and lifestyle choices, parts of the program are geared toward helping kids avoid tobacco products in addition to the drugs and alcohol. Researchers in the study were surprised at how enthusiastic the young people were during the study.

In the curriculum, over 2000 middle schoolers from seven different counties in Florida were involved in Health Rocks! program. The training was held in classrooms, clubs, camps, & afterschool programs. The students had to take a minimum of 10 hours training in order to participate in a survey. To learn how much of the information was sinking in, almost half of the students responded to subjects such as drug knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, decision-making, and behavioral skills on resisting drugs. Part of the training included difficulty in stopping drug use, affect on the future, and how to say “no”.

The positive results were significant and clearly showed an increase in learned information, how to use that information, and a productive change of attitude toward drugs (legal and illegal), alcohol, and tobacco.