The Value of Cultural Adaptation Processes: Older Youth Participants as Substance Abuse Preventionists

Lori K.Holleran Steiker, Jeremy Goldbach, Laura M. Hopson, Tara Powell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This National Institutes of Health (National Institute on Drug Abuse) funded study employed focus groups to explore the value of: (a) engaging youth as experts in their own drug culture to engage them in open, honest discussion around substance use in their communities; and (b) allowing youth within a range of settings to systematically recreate unique workbook and video scenarios while maintaining the core components of an evidence-based substance abuse prevention program. Researchers collaborated with community based agencies that serve high risk youth, including youth who were incarcerated, homeless, in alternative high schools, in low-income housing programs, and on the US-Mexico border. The research indicates that high-risk youth in community settings can be actively engaged in adapting evidence-based prevention curricula. Youth emphasized their reasons for using drugs, as well as the salient consequences, and the value of tailored scenarios that incorporate their life experiences, language, drugs of choice, and relevant motivators. Serendipitous findings noted attitude changes related to dissonance between the adaptation component participants' behaviors and their input as "Preventionists." Findings have implications for developing prevention strategies that may be helpful for older, high-risk youth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)495-509
Number of pages15
JournalChild and Adolescent Social Work Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptation
  • Adolescent substance abuse
  • Cognitive dissonance
  • Culture
  • Prevention
  • Trans-theoretical model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'The Value of Cultural Adaptation Processes: Older Youth Participants as Substance Abuse Preventionists'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this