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HANDICAPPED STUDENTS MORE PRONE TO DRUG USE THAN OTHERS, STUDY FINDS

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A recent study indicates that handicapped young people are more likely to use illegal drugs, tobacco and alcohol than non-handicapped students, says a Utah State University specialist.

Students with handicaps may be falling through the cracks when substance use prevention classes are taught, said Dan Morgan, head of USU's department of special education."There is enough evidence nationally to suggest that drug use by handicapped students is significantly higher than drug use by non-handicapped students," Morgan said. "The profile of students who will be at greatest risk for substance use include characteristics found in students served in special education, especially behaviorally disordered kids."

The U.S. Department of Education, through its Drug Free Schools and Communities Program, recently funded USU's request for $260,000 to develop a substance education program aimed at these special students.

Of the 60 requests funded nationwide, USU's is the only project addressing the unique problems of special education.

"Regular classroom curriculum hasn't always reached the student population we're looking at," said Ronda Menlove, project director. "These students are often in special classes where they don't always have access to normal school prevention efforts. Often these students need materials and instruction designed to meet their unique needs."

Morgan, Menlove and project research associate Donna Elmquist are using the Utah State Office of Education K-12 prevention education curriculum as a primary source for their special education adaptation.