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OFFICIALS FAVOR DRUG PLAN THAT FOCUSES ON ATTITUDES

Federal health officials said Friday they support a drug prevention program that focuses on changing the way communities view drug use - legal and illegal - rather than merely telling youngsters to say no.

"This program is unique because it utilizes all components in the community - schools, parents, the media and community groups - which contribute to changing the social norms for drug use and providing a healthy drug-free environment for all people," said Charles R. Schuster, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.Schuster's agency helped pay for an evaluation of the Midwestern Drug Abuse Prevention Research Project, a just-completed five-year study in Kansas City and Indianapolis by researchers from the University of Southern California.

Among the major findings:

-36 percent of the students who participated in the program said they drank alcohol in the last month, while 50.1 percent of those not in the program admitted the same behavior.

-24.1 percent of the participating students smoked cigarettes in the last month, compared with 32 percent of those who didn't.

-14.2 percent of the program students smoked marijuana in the past month, compared with 20.2 percent of those in a control group.