Illustrative Projects

Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevalence in the Border Area

University of Texas at Austin, School of Social Work

Methodology: Needs Assessment, Policy Analysis and Quantitative Analysis

This was a study of drug and alcohol abuse prevalence using state-of-the-art technology to gather detailed data on 1,200 people in the border area of Texas. Interviewers conducted the survey in person using Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing software (CAPI) on laptops. The use of CAPI both avoids interviewer errors associated with conducting the survey and entering data, and facilitates the rapid analysis of data.

Texas School Survey of Drug and Alcohol Use

Texas Department State of Health Services (DSHS)

Methodology: Needs Assessment, Quantitative Analysis and Survey Research

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) contracts with PPRI to administer and analyze a survey regarding drug and alcohol use in Texas elementary and secondary schools. The Texas School Survey of Drug and Alcohol Use utilizes a weighted, stratified cluster sample and is designed to identify what kinds of substances are most prevalent among Texas school children. Approximately 80 percent of school districts across the state choose to conduct a local assessment of drug and alcohol use with over 1 million students having participated in this project since its inception in 1988. The survey findings continue to provide state policy makers information for planning and prioritizing drug education programs and related initiatives throughout the state.


Rave Project

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

Methodology: Qualitative Analysis

The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) funded a project with the goal of better understanding the interconnection between drug use, ‘raving’, and Internet usage among youth. PPRI, the Texas A&M University Sociology Department, and the University of Houston spent several years researching this issue by providing qualitative analysis of various websites using a new and unique system of study called cyber-ethnography. This new system uses techniques from a variety of fields of study, including anthropology and sociology, and applies these to internet websites. PPRI examined, specifically, websites set up for and by ravers as well as “harm reduction” websites and analyzed discussions of drugs and raves. Besides the qualitative analysis, PPRI posted a survey on a harm reduction site so as to get quantitative feedback as well.
A book based on this research, “Real Drugs in a Virtual World” elevates the debate about drug use and the Internet from polemic discourse to social scientific investigation. The essays confront issues related to the study of online drug communication, including the causal factors of abuse as discussed in online forums, the relationship between music and drug use in virtual communities, and the ways in which individuals assess the accuracy of online drug information. This book highlights the variety of ways to examine drug use as a social problem and presents several theoretical perspectives valuable to online research.