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Alcohol Misuse Prevention Study

Ages 10-18

Rating: Level 2


Alcohol Misuse and Prevention—a curriculum-based program for 10- to 18-year-olds—uses a well-developed, normative curriculum based on social learning theory. The curriculum emphasizes resistance training, knowledge of immediate effects of alcohol, identification of risks of alcohol misuse, and recognition of social pressures to misuse alcohol. The program promotes fidelity of implementation by sending letters to teachers and providing them with self-evaluation tools. The program encourages caregiver participation by offering parental activities involving homework, presentations, and letters sent home. Students learn through role-playing and guided problem-solving and decision-making exercises about alcohol use and misuse.


The program has undergone several rigorous evaluations. In one study of the effectiveness of the program in preventing alcohol misuse in middle school students, a longitudinal design with random assignment to condition was employed. Thirty-five elementary and middle schools in Southeast Michigan were matched on achievement test scores, free and reduced lunch, and ethnicity of sixth grade students and then were randomly assigned to treatment or control conditions. Sixth graders were pretested in the autumn and posttested in the spring of sixth, seventh, and eighth grade. The curriculum was implemented in treatment schools during the winter of students’ sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. The final sample consisted of 1,725 students (885 control, 840 treatment; 52 percent female). Measures concentrated on awareness of curriculum content, alcohol use, and alcohol misuse. At pretest, 72.6 percent were considered “abstainers,” 19.2 percent reported supervised alcohol use only, and 8.2 percent reported unsupervised use. No significant differences between treatment and control groups were found at pretest.


In the study of the effects of the program on middle school students, results indicated that across all posttests the treatment group had higher curriculum knowledge than the control group. While alcohol use increased significantly over time for all groups, the rate of alcohol misuse increased significantly less for participants than for the controls. Authors of the study suggest that the curriculum may have been more effective for the students with prior unsupervised alcohol use because those students had more reason to find the material relevant and more experience on which to base their questions and learning. Attrition data was analyzed, resulting in a trend toward more alcohol use and misuse in those lost to analysis.

In another study the alcohol misuse prevention curriculum was implemented and evaluated for 10th grade students with follow-up through 12th grade. Students from four school districts (n = 1,041) participated in the study. There were desirable program effects on alcohol misuse prevention knowledge, alcohol misuse, and refusal skills. Boys’ rates increased more than girls’ rates regarding alcohol use, alcohol misuse, and driving after drinking. Exposure to a 6th grade and a 10th grade program did not result in better outcomes. Authors noted that despite high levels of alcohol use among high school students, a 10th grade curriculum can result in some desirable effects.

In a further study of the effects of the program on students’ subsequent driving, 4,635 10th grade students were randomly assigned to the program or control condition. During the 1st year after receiving their driver’s license, program students were involved in fewer serious traffic or drug offenses compared with control students. The effects of the program were stronger for those students who at baseline reported drinking less then one drink a week or whose parents did not disapprove of alcohol use. Effects were not sustained, however, indicating the need for subsequent booster sessions.

Risk Factors


  • Favorable attitudes toward drug use/Early onset of AOD use/Alcohol and/or drug use
  • Poor refusal skills

Protective Factors


  • Healthy / Conventional beliefs and clear standards
  • Social competencies and problem-solving skills


  • Drug Strategies


Drug Strategies. 1999. Making the Grade: A Guide to School Drug Prevention Programs—Preventing Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Use. Washington, DC.

Shope, Jean T., L.A Copeland, R. Maharg, and T.E. Dielman. 1996. “Effectiveness of a High School Alcohol Misuse Prevention Program.” Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 20:791–98.

Shope, Jean T., Michael R. Elliott, Trivellore E. Raghunathan, and Patricia F. Waller. 2001. “Long-Term Follow-Up of a High School Misuse Prevention Program’s Effect on Students’ Subsequent Driving.” Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 25:403–10.

Shope, Jean T., Deborah D. Kloska, T.E. Dielman, and R. Maharg. 1994. “Longitudinal Evaluation of an Enhanced Alcohol Misuse Prevention Study Curriculum for Grades 6–8.” Journal of School Health 64. Retrieved from on June 29, 2005.


Deborah Kloska
University of Michigan, Institute for Social Research
P.O. Box 1248
Ann Arbor, MI 48106–1248
Phone: (734) 647-0587