Research and Effectiveness of Botvin LifeSkills Training (LST)
IS LST EVIDENCE-BASED? LST is the most widely used evidence-based tobacco, alcohol, drug abuse, and violence prevention programs available. It is also one of the most comprehensive and rigorously tested prevention programs in America today. LST has been extensively tested and proven effective both by Dr. Botvin and colleagues at Cornell University’s Weill Cornell Medical College and by a number of independent research groups.
HOW EFFECTIVE IS LST? Studies testing the effectiveness of LST show that it can reduce the prevalence of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug use by as much as 80%. It can also reduce multiple drug use by up to 66%. Research conducted for the elementary version of the program shows a 60% reduction in tobacco and alcohol use as well as increased self-esteem. LST has also been shown to reduce violent and aggressive behavior.
IS LST A GOOD INVESTMENT? Several independent studies show that LST makes good economic sense. The results of analyses examining the costs and economic benefits of LST have typically found that it produces a $25 savings for every $1 spent. In addition, a recent (2012) cost-benefit study of prevention programs found that LST produced a whopping $38 savings for every $1 spent.
DO THE REDUCTIONS IN DRUG USE PRODUCED BY LST LAST? Yes. Several studies show that the LST program produces reductions in drug use that are long-lasting. Studies published in top scientific journals such as the Journal of the American Medical Association (1995), Addictive Behaviors (2000), the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine (2006), and the American Journal of Public Health (2013) or presented at major scientific conferences (2012) show that LST produces effects on drug use that last for up to 12 years after the initial baseline assessment. That means the effects of LST can last through high school and college and even into young adulthood.
What demographic does LST work for? The LST program has been tested with a broad range of adolescents. So far, it has proven effective for every type of adolescent. Evaluation studies show that it works for Caucasian, Black, and Hispanic youth. It also works for boys and girls, and for adolescents living in suburban, urban, and rural environments.
WHAT AGE GROUPS DOES LST WORK FOR? LST has been tested and proven effective with several different age groups. So far, studies have shown that LST is effective with students in elementary school, middle/junior high school, and high school. Age-appropriate curriculum materials are available for each age group.
What makes the LST program more effective than other programs? One of the distinguishing features of the LST program is that it is based on sound science. Many contemporary prevention programs are based on hunches, guesses, and wishful thinking. The LST program, however, is based on over 30 years of research concerning the causes of drug abuse and how to best prevent it. Another distinguishing feature of the LST program is that it emphasizes the use of interactive teaching methods.
Are all “Life Skills” programs equally effective? Several programs now use "life skills" in their title or refer to themselves as "life skills" programs. But only the Botvin LifeSkills Training program has been subjected to extensive testing in over 30 rigorous evaluation studies and proven to decrease adolescent tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug use.