Prevention at ICA

Addiction is a complex mental state, characterized by a compulsive preoccupation with reward stimuli, despite the negative consequences. Addiction can be linked to the consumption of addictive substances (such as alcohol, drugs, nicotine, prescription drugs), or certain behaviors (such as gambling, gaming, sex, viewing pornography, etc.), which, despite being pleasurable, can become compulsive, impair functioning, and damage health.

The rapid physical, hormonal, and social changes that occur during adolescence promote adolescents’ desire for new experiences and testing boundaries. This is an important reason why the risk of developing addiction is particularly high among teenagers, and why addictions are especially common in this age group.

How do prevention programs work?


According to a World Health Organization (WHO) review, programs that promote the mental health and personal wellbeing of adolescents have the greatest potential to reduce the incidence of addiction. Therefore, prevention programs in schools are critical in preventing and reducing addiction among adolescents. Today, however, most school intervention programs focus on “traditional” addictions—that is, on minimizing the consumption of tobacco, alcohol and other addictive substances. There is a glaring lack of interventions that focus on relatively “new” addictions, such as gambling, gaming, and others.

The project offered by the Israel Center on Addiction (ICA), in cooperation with the Maytiv Center for Research and Practice in Positive Psychology, aims to translate the existing theoretical knowledge in the fields of addiction prevention and positive psychology into a comprehensive intervention program for middle school students. The goal of this program is to prevent a wide range of addictive behaviors among adolescents. The program is based on academic research and on the professional expertise of members of the Maytiv Center, which operates within the framework of the IDC Herzliya.

Since 2010 the Maytiv Center has gained extensive experience in the planning and implementation of education programs based on positive psychology, directed at promoting the psychological wellbeing and mental health of students. To date, Maytiv Center programs have reached more than 5,000 teachers and 200,000 children and adolescents in the Israeli education system, making them the largest provider of private education programs in Israel.


How does the addiction prevention program at ICA work?


The proposed program is spread over four years, in which the Israel Center on Addiction, in cooperation with the Maytiv Center, will engage in the development, implementation and empirical testing of a research-based program for junior high school students, will which address the risk factors of addiction and will promote the development of protective factors that help prevent addiction.

The project includes two comprehensive and parallel programs, one for educators and one for students. The programs address a wide range of addictions that are prevalent among adolescents (e.g., drugs, alcohol, tobacco, eating, gambling, Internet, shopping, gaming, viewing pornography), while promoting basic personal and social skills, including strengthening relationships with peers, interpersonal communication, self-control, goal setting, making life choices, coping skills and refusal skills. The program will also promote a sense of meaning and belonging in students, a positive life direction, and other determinants of psychological wellbeing and healthy behavior in adolescents.