New UTSA program to educate middle school students about alcohol, substance abuse

SAN ANTONIO – The University of Texas at San Antonio has a new program designed to educate youths about the effects of alcohol and drugs.

For the program, UTSA hired two peer educators who will go into a middle school, which is not being named, to work with students.

“There’s a lot of different ways for the middle school students to learn about drugs and alcohol — the effects the drugs and alcohol have on the body and the brain — as well as to learn about how to improve their social relationships, improve their decision making and make smart, healthy decisions,” said Eric Shattuck, a postdoctoral research fellow.

There will also be some material about vaping, which is a big issue in schools.

Shattuck said the educators will use workbooks and games to educate students.

The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration awarded UTSA a $1.5 million grant for the five-year project.

“We also want to see improvements in the students, family relationships,” Shattuck said.

According to the 2018 Texas School Survey of Drug and Alcohol Use, 34% of seventh-graders said they drank alcohol in their lifetime, and for eighth-graders, it was 42%.

Shattuck said the researchers will also be working with the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District to collect data to see if the program is working.

About the Author

Tiffany Huertas is a reporter for KSAT 12 known for her in-depth storytelling and her involvement with the community.

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