Durham, NC (September 12, 2014)—Scientists from innovation Research & Training (IRT) will be among researchers and practitioners presenting at the upcoming National Prevention Network annual research conference September 15-18 in Hartford, CT.

The National Prevention Network (NPN) is a component group of the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD), a private, not-for-profit educational, scientific, and informational organization. This year’s conference theme is “Connecting Healthy Communities through Prevention Research and Practice.”

iRT researchers have been selected to present three workshops during the conference. Dr. Janis Kupersmidt, iRT founder and president, and Sarah Rabiner, iRT research specialist, will present “Drugged Driving Research and Prevention Resources,” along with Dr. Harold Perl, chief of the Prevention Research Branch of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The session will provide an overview of NIDA’s role in supporting research on the problem of drugged driving and how to prevent it. iRT researchers will define drugged driving as well as describe its prevalence in the United States and how driving is affected while under the influence of drugs. In addition, iRT will discuss the topic of drugged driving as a growing public health problem along with potential resources and strategies that can be used to support prevention efforts.

“Drugged driving is a significant public health and safety concern, and there is an increasing need for information resources to help guide prevention efforts,” said Dr. Kupersmidt. “Our goal is to develop a set of resources for locating research and tools, selecting prevention and treatment programs, reviewing laws and policies, collecting data, and providing training on the topic of drugged driving.”

iRT scientists will also lead the “Media Literacy Education and Substance Abuse Prevention” conference session. Dr. Kupersmidt will be joined by iRT research scientist Dr. Tara Weatherholt and Dr. Perl in a discussion on research into the effects of a media literacy education (MLE) approach on reducing children’s and adolescents’ intent to use drugs or alcohol. iRT has developed evidence-based programs using MLE to prevent substance abuse, including Media Detective for elementary school, Media Ready for middle school, and Media Aware for high school students.

“Our research shows that by learning how media messages are created and by understanding the hidden messages found within those messages, young people will be better equipped to analyze the veracity of those messages and make healthier lifestyle choices,” said Dr. Weatherholt.

The final iRT workshop, “Mindfulness Training and Substance Abuse Prevention for Youth,” will be presented by Dr. Kupersmidt, iRT Research Scientist Dr. Alison Parker, and iRT Research Assistant Shelley Upton. The workshop will focus on the three mindfulness education programs (Master Mind, Moment, and Aware) developed by iRT to provide youth in different age groups with tools to cope with stress, regulate their feelings and behaviors, and make healthy choices. Master Mind and Moment are universal, school-based prevention programs taught by elementary and middle school teachers. Aware is a web-based substance abuse prevention program developed with adolescents with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

“Mindfulness training with children and adolescents has the potential to prevent substance abuse by promoting the development of good self-regulatory abilities and healthy decision-making,” said Dr. Parker.

Both school-based programs were evaluated in small experimental studies and youth who received these programs improved in their executive functioning and behavior regulation skills compared to students in the control groups. The Aware program is currently being developed and evaluated incorporating systematic input from adolescents with FASD and their caregivers with the goal of preventing substance abuse.

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About innovation Research & Training

innovation Research & Training (iRT) is a behavioral sciences research company committed to identifying and solving significant real-world problems facing children, families, communities, and organizations. By using evidence-based and culturally sensitive methods, iRT researchers investigate, develop, and evaluate behavioral, educational, psychological, social, and community assessment, prevention and treatment programs and services. iRT’s staff includes experts in basic and applied research in a variety of areas, including substance abuse prevention and treatment, youth mentoring, social and emotional development, mindfulness education, media literacy education, pregnancy prevention and sexual health, child and adolescent mental health, adult and juvenile justice programs, drug courts, drugged driving, tobacco use and underage drinking. For more information about iRT, visit www.irtinc.us.

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