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Keep A Clear Mind

Ages 8-12

Rating: Level 2


Keep A Clear Mind (KACM) is a take-home drug education program for upper elementary school students and their parents. The take-home material consists of four weekly sets of activities to be completed by parents and their children together. The program also uses parent newsletters and incentives.

Lessons are based on a social skills training model. They are designed to help children develop specific skills to refuse and avoid the use of “gateway” drugs. This unique early-intervention program has been shown to positively influence known risk factors for later substance use. KACM has been rigorously evaluated in field tests involving students in grades 4 through 6 and their parents.


Two published studies have evaluated the effectiveness of the Keep A Clear Mind program. The initial study involved 511 fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students and their parents (n=1,022) from six schools in northwest Arkansas. The mean age of students was 10.4. Fifty-three percent were female, and 93 percent were white. The mean age of mothers was 35.4, while the mean age of fathers was 38.1. Nearly 95 percent of the parents were white. Students were blocked according to school and grade level, then assigned randomly by class to either the Keep A Clear Mind program or a control group that was placed on a waiting list for the program. Data was collected from students and their parents about 2 weeks before and after program implementation. Student surveys measured their use, beliefs, intentions, and knowledge of marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco. The parent survey also measured drug-related knowledge and beliefs, as well as the extent of parent–child communication.

The second study used an experimental design with 1,447 fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students and 2,036 of their parents from 18 schools across the State of Arkansas. Six schools were randomly assigned to the basic program. Six additional schools were to receive Keep A Clear Mind plus a family incentives program. The remaining six schools were randomly assigned to a control group that was on a waiting list. Pretest and posttest data was collected from students and parents at all 18 schools. Students were asked about their attitudes toward and perceptions of drug use and their actual and intended drug use.


The first study found that mothers in the treatment group reported significantly more recent and frequent communication with their children about how to refuse and avoid drugs and how to resist peer pressure to drink, use tobacco, and use marijuana. Fathers reported significantly greater communication with their children about how to resist peer pressure to drink and use tobacco and significantly more motivation to help their children avoid drugs. There were no differences between the two groups in parents’ drug-related knowledge or beliefs. Students in the treatment group perceived significantly less peer use of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana and felt significantly less peer pressure to use tobacco than did the control group. There were no significant differences reported in the measures of self-efficacy, family expectations, and knowledge of, motivation to avoid, and intention to use alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana.

The second study showed similar positive results. The outcomes reported by parents who participated in the program (compared with those in the control group) include the following:

  • 20 percent more parents indicated that their children had an increased ability to resist peer pressure to use alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana.
  • 29 percent more parents indicated a decreased expectation that their children would try substances.
  • 14 percent more parents expressed a more realistic view of drug use among young people and a greater realization of its effects.

The outcomes reported by children who participated in the program (compared with those in the control group) include the following:

  • A 9 percent decrease in the Keep A Clear Mind students’ perceptions of extensive substance use among peers, compared with an 18 percent increase in the control group’s perception
  • A 15 percent decrease in Keep A Clear Mind participants’ expectations that they would use tobacco, compared with more than a 100 percent increase in the control group
  • A 59 percent increase in the number of children who indicated that their parents did not approve of marijuana use

Risk Factors


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


  • Family management problems/Poor parental supervision and/or monitoring


  • Peer alcohol, tobacco, and/or other drug use

Protective Factors


  • Healthy / Conventional beliefs and clear standards
  • Perception of social support from adults and peers
  • Social competencies and problem-solving skills


  • Effective parenting
  • High expectations
  • Opportunities for prosocial family involvement


  • SAMHSA: Model Programs


Werch, C.E.; Michael Young; M. Clark; C. Garrett; S. Hooks; and C. Kersten. 1991. “Effects of a Take-Home Drug Prevention Program on Drug-Related Communication and Beliefs of Parents and Children.” Journal of School Health 61(8):346–50.


Michael Young, Ph.D.
Center for Evidence-Based Programming
4101 Meadow View
Fayetteville, AR 72701
Phone: (501) 617-8400
Fax: (479) 575-6401
Web site: