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A family-centered prevention program can help deter substance use, conduct problems and depressive symptoms among rural African-American teens, a new study finds.

The study included African-American teens and their parents, who lived in rural Georgia. They attended five two-hour sessions on household rules, academic success, resisting peer pressure and dealing with discrimination and racism, according to Reuters. After 22 months, the researchers found a significant decrease in the number of teens using or abusing substances, as well as a drop in conduct problems and depressive symptoms.

The study included two groups, each with about 250 teenagers and their primary caregiver. One group participated in sessions in which caregivers learned about parenting practices, including how to set rules and limits regarding substance abuse. The teens learned about self-control, setting academic goals and how to deal with racism. The teens and parents in the second group attended sessions on nutrition and exercise, and did not discuss substance use and behavioral issues.

The researchers found that among the group that talked about substance abuse and behavioral issues, about half as many had drug and alcohol problems at the end of the study, compared with the group who only discussed exercise and nutrition.

Study author Gene Brody of the University of Georgia said that rural teens once had much lower rates of drug use and behavioral problems compared with urban teens. In recent years, however, they have become more at risk, he said.

The study appears in Pediatrics.



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