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Students at St. Michael-Albertville High School will be participating in drug and alcohol substance use prevention program Thursday, Jan. 31.

The visit is part of Know the Truth’s kick-off program for the 2018-19 academic year. By May 2019, presenters will speak to more than 160 high schools and middle schools throughout the state, reaching an estimated 60,000 students.

“Since the program began 12 years ago, it has seen significant success in helping prevent drug and alcohol use among Minnesota’s young people,” said Tracee Anderson, Director Of Prevention And Community Engagement with Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge. She said students take surveys before and after the presentations.

“These surveys show that after hearing the KTT presentation, nearly 90 percent of students made a commitment not to use illegal substances and 75 percent vowed not to use alcohol before the age of 21,” Anderson said.

An independent study conducted by an outside research evaluator from the University of Minnesota corroborates the effectiveness of the KTT program. The study compared attitudes towards substance use among students who participated in the Know the Truth program with students who participated in only the standard health curriculum. Participation in either group had a generally positive impact on overall healthy attitudes toward substance use and the risks associated with it.

Nearly one in four students in the KTT group (23.7 percent) reported an overall increase in healthy attitudes, while only about one in 12 in the control group (8.1 percent) reported an increase. Regarding prescription pills including opioids, KTT had a larger net increase in the number of students who reported healthier attitudes toward prescription drugs after participation (54.3 percent) compared to the control group (17.6 percent).

“We’re thrilled to see a third-party study confirm what we’ve known,” Anderson said. “The Know the Truth program works and helps save lives, especially since the vast majority of Americans who struggle with addiction started smoking, drinking, or using drugs before age 18.”

The program utilizes a peer-to-peer format, where Know the Truth presenters — often just a few years older than the students — share their personal struggles with substance use. This format allows students to open up and helps Know the Truth bridge the gap between the students and the parents, care givers, teachers and community leaders who support them. In most cases, the Know the Truth presentations are included in standard health curriculum, embedded into the drug and alcohol unit.

To learn more about Know the Truth, visit wwwKnowTheTruth.org.

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